May 8, 2020
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — A tiered approach to reopening county facilities closed by COVID-19 could see outdoor park amenities and some libraries reopening very soon.
A multifaceted county task force is developing a plan aimed at the gradual reopening of county facilities while continuing health precautions in accordance with state and CDC guidelines, including ongoing spatial distancing, crowd limits, and the use of personal protective equipment.
In accordance with some state restrictions being lifted to allow certain nonessential businesses or operations to reopen, Chesterfield plans to reopen pickleball, tennis and basketball courts and playgrounds at county parks as soon as May 12 and reopen select libraries possibly by June 1. Community recreation centers, as well as the popular Rockwood Nature Center, are also expected to open June 1.
All reopen dates are tentative and subject to change based on data showing how well we are controlling the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are taking a very careful and deliberate approach to how we reopen facilities over time,” said Dr. Joe Casey, county administrator. “Using a tiered approach based on established priorities ensures we can maintain and gradually increase service levels while identifying and addressing needs or challenges that arise.”
Within days of the county closing facilities in mid-March, Chesterfield began providing many of its programs and services virtually or in modified ways. Examples include curbside book pickup at libraries and expanding virtual or online access to services across departments while buildings and facilities remained locked. Thousands of county employees began teleworking, enabling essential and many nonessential county services to continue operating.
Chesterfield is currently considering geographically which of the county’s 10 libraries to reopen first, as well as modified hours to enable daily cleaning. Library customers who’ve used the curbside service will also be able to drop off their books much sooner than the previously scheduled July 1 return date using drop-off slots at any of the county’s 10 branches. Library customers may now begin dropping off their books May 18. The returned books will be handled within CDC guidelines ensuring they are clean when checked out, again.
“We are delighted to finally begin the process of reopening our libraries to the public, though in a limited capacity that still prioritizes the health of customers and staff,” Library Director Mike Mabe said.
While the public has been able to continue using trails throughout the county’s parks system and make use of new virtual recreation offerings, they’ve had to forgo using other facilities for recreation. The current plan has park courts and playgrounds reopening by next Tuesday with established health precautions including gatherings of no more than 10 people and the highly recommended use of protective facemasks, especially for any activities that could involve physical contact.
“The county’s parks are an integral part of peoples’ lives, so our aim has always been to reopen amenities as soon as possible and while being ever mindful of the health and well-being of park visitors and staff,” said Dr. James Worsley, Parks and Recreation director.
“Our goal is to begin the process of returning Chesterfield to some level of normalcy while not letting our guard down,” Dr. Casey said. “In addition to planning the county’s slow and deliberate path toward reopening, we are equipped to quickly reverse plans, if needed.”