Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Onslow County, several municipalities have made the decision to close their buildings to the p beginning next week.
Jacksonville Assistant City Manager Glenn Hargett released a statement on Tuesday saying, “In an effort to limit person-to-person contact and to protect valued employees and citizens from the increasing COVID-19 exposure, many Onslow local governments will be restricting access to buildings and personnel.”
Onslow County, City of Jacksonville and Richlands will have restricted building access beginning next week. Staff will remain on duty inside the buildings.
The Town of Swansboro said they are still considering a closure or partial closure but have yet to make a call and are waiting for the board of commissioners to weigh in, according to Assistant Town Manager Paula Webb.
County officials announced 256 confirmed new positive COVID-19 cases since Friday.
With the growing number of cases in Onslow, the county has seen several outbreak clusters and new record hospitalizations which have caused concerns for local officials. The increase in COVID-19 safety follows the state’s announcement of the record-setting number of cases as well.
The Jacksonville Fire and Emergency Services has almost an entire shift of firefighters in quarantine after possible exposure to the virus. Fire Chief Tee Tallman and the city are covering the affected shift with other firefighters and mutual aid is available if need be.
Jacksonville’s restrictions will begin Monday morning while other local governments will begin their restrictions at 5 p.m. on Monday.
City of Jacksonville Government
The restriction will close public access to the City Hall, the Center for Public Safety, some recreation sites, all fire stations and the public services complex. Citizens will be able to use a phone at most of the entrances for these locations for connection to employees.
At the Jacksonville City Hall, drive up access to Utility Billing for water and sewer account payments will continue as usual. For other business, it is best to call the City Hall main number 910 938-5200 before going to City Hall except for drive up access. Many functions with the City can be performed online. Please check the City website at JacksonvilleNC.gov for more information.
No future Passport appointments will be issued for the City of Jacksonville until the building restrictions is lifted.
For the Jacksonville Center for Public Safety; the public can interact with staff via the Taxi Permit Window at the main entrance to the Center. Taxi permits that expire during the closure will be automatically extended until the building reopens. No fingerprinting services will be offered during this time.
All City Fire Stations are closed to the public because of this action. Potential visitors should call the Administrative Line at 910 455-4000.
Some Jacksonville Recreation school and senior connected programs will continue to operate. More information is on the City of Jacksonville Recreation webpage at JacksonvilleNC.gov/Recreation and the Recreation Facebook Page.
Onslow County Government
Onslow County Government will be restricting public access into County buildings beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday. If you need County services, please call ahead. Limited appointments will be available, and many services are available online. For more information, call the Citizen Phone Bank at 910 989-5027.
Public access will be permitted for all publicly-noticed governmental meetings, but meeting attendance will be restricted in number in compliance with current Executive Orders.
To reducing the risk of crowding at the County airport during the holidays, family and friends meeting inbound or sending off outbound passengers are asked to wait in their vehicles in the parking lot.
-Onslow County Public Libraries will be accessible to the public (masks required) Monday-Friday, 9AM-Noon, and 3-6PM for computers, browsing shelves and WiFi usage; Monday-Friday, 10AM-Noon, and 4-6PM curbside pickup will be available; on Saturdays, the Main Library will be publicly accessible 10AM-2PM; all in-person programming is suspended.
-Onslow County Tax Office will still be accepting payments prior to the January 5, 2021 deadline, and will spread out to provide services to both the first and second floor of the Government Center to improve safety. Please make payments online or by telephone if possible, or use the secure drop box located in front of the Government Center.
-Onslow County Health Department services will continue offering in-person services by appointment only.
-Animal Services will be answering emergency calls in person. Please call ahead to make an appointment for in-person assistance at Animal Services.
-The Meadowview Road Landfill and all convenience sites will continue on a regular schedule (and are closed only for Thanksgiving Day). Payment boxes will be reinstalled at convenience sites. Please bring exact change if possible.
-The Register of Deeds office will be closed to the public, and will offer online services. Limited appointments are available for marriages and notary oaths, but please call in advance. The Register of Deeds will accept maps and documents for recording that are brought to their front door.
-The Onslow County Museum will continue to limit capacity and require masks but are open regular hours on Saturday after Thanksgiving.
-Onslow County Senior Services is suspending all in person programming, but will continue in-home aide, drive-through congregate meal pick-up, and home delivered meal programs.
-The Onslow County Courthouse and Sheriff’s Office are currently exempted from the closure to the public and continue having publicly accessible facilities. Please go to nccourts.gov to get information about the court system and individual court times. Extra spacing and mask requirements have been put into place at both facilities.
-Parks and Recreation facilities will remain open but citizens are reminded to wear masks.
Town of Richlands Government
Town Hall access will be closed effective Tuesday. Residents doing business with the town can call Town Hall and set appointments. Any item that requires close contact will be delayed, including fingerprinting. The ONWASA box for payments is still available outside.
Reporter Trevor Dunnell can be reached by email at [email protected].