The City of Bartlesville has established new protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City Council approved the measure during an emergency meeting Wednesday morning. The resolution defines city employee protocol, limits gatherings, discontinues city meetings and re-establishes utility cutoffs.

The protocols go into effect at midnight Wednesday and will remain in place until April 6 when the Council will review the measures at its regularly scheduled meeting.

“We’re discussing things we’ve never had to address before,” Mayor Dale Copeland said at the meeting Wednesday morning. “We’re charting new territory.”

He added, “This is a time to watch out for our neighbors. That’s what Bartlesville does. It’s time to come together as a community.”

The council approved the following measures in light of the ongoing crisis:

• All existing special event permits shall be revoked and no further special event permits will be issued while these measures remain in effect.

• Municipal Court is hereby suspended other than by teleconference where required. No further failure to appear warrants will be issued or served while these measures remain in effect.

• All Code Enforcement hearings are suspended.

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• Public gatherings of greater than 50 people will not be allowed at any city owned or managed facilities except as required by law.

• Further utility cutoffs are suspended, and the city manager is directed to reestablish service for any disconnected customer. Amounts due will not be forgiven.

• City-owned pools will not be opened while these measures are in effect.

• The Bartlesville Public Library and History Museum will be closed to the public.

• All city board and committee meetings are hereby canceled except for City Council and Authority meetings. Authorities are encouraged to only meet when absolutely necessary.

• The use of city-owned meeting rooms for public gatherings of any size is hereby prohibited. Meeting rooms may still be used by City staff when necessary.

• All in-person gatherings for social, spiritual, and recreational purposes, including, but not limited to community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades, concerts, festivals, conventions, fundraisers and similar activities are strongly discouraged while these measures are in effect.

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• Restaurants, bars, and other privately-owned gathering places are highly encouraged to limit the number of patrons such that at least 6 feet of space is available to each person. Such facilities are further encouraged to provide enhanced “take out” and “delivery” options.

• Local gyms and exercise facilities are encouraged to discontinue all group activities and to significantly increase and enhance facility sanitation regiments.

Regarding city employee protocol, the resolution also included the following measures:

• Where practical, to close portions of public facilities to the public and encourage the use of email, telephone, and other remote methods of conducting business with the city.

• To modify work schedules and conditions as necessary to ensure business continuity and employee safety.

• To invoke special protocols to limit the risk of exposure for city employees.

• To establish procedures for certain employees to telecommute where practical

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• To provide paid admin leave for employees who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 as per management developed policy

• Establish mandatory disinfection protocols for all city facilities.

Bartlesville resident Chad Ellis, who addressed the council about the virus previously, said the resolution needs to be more aggressive as far as social distancing.

“If we take prudent measures, we can flatten the curve,” Ellis said.

City Manager Mike Bailey, who helped draft the resolution, said the measure will be reviewed at every meeting until the crisis passes.

Copeland said, “We will continue to talk several times a day to stay on top of this.”

Councilman Paul Stuart said although the virus has not been widely spread in Oklahoma as yet, the effects of the virus could be devastating due to the number of people with comprised immune systems.