County Operations Remain Open, Public Access Restricted
WAYNE COUNTY – The Wayne County Courthouse and most other county buildings opened for business Monday morning, with noticeable changes in place with the health and safety of county employees and visitors in mind.
County commissioners implemented a restricted access policy for the courthouse, the Area Agency on Aging Building and Park Street Complex to limit but not eliminate public access to those buildings so essential government functions can continue.
Those entering these three facilities Monday noticed not only a sheriffs deputy stationed at each door but a county employee as well greeting visitors and asking what their business was and trying to coordinate ways to have that business done via phone or email if possible. If that wasn’t an option county department heads were following policies they crafted to handle walk ins but also protect their staff as best as possible from COVID-19.
Some department created drop off boxes and the building entrances so documents and filings could be left there without any face-to-face interaction. Other departments were still allowing access to their office. And county commissioners will still be holding their weekly meetings and they will be open to the public.
All three Wayne County commissioners spent time Monday helping to greet visitors to county buildings and explain the new protocols and make sure things went smoothly.
Commissioner Brian Smith, who spent Monday morning greeting those entering the courthouse, said the county is doing everything possible to restrict access when appropriate but also ensuring county business is conducted and the public can still utilize county offices when possible.
Commissioner Joe Adams, who was at the Park Street Complex front door, said the public should be relying on emails, phone calls, website uploads and whatever else they can to cut down on as much foot traffic as possible to county buildings.
Commissioner Jocelyn Cramer, who assisted with entrance greetings at the Aging Office, said she appreciates the cooperation of all county employees and the public who are all doing their best to get through unchartered waters while making sure county government remains open and effective.
The commissioners will continue to participate in daily calls and emailed updates with the governor’s office, the state department of health, FEMA, PEMA, the CDC, federal and state legislators and will continue to share updates regularly.
As a reminder, the following important changes have also occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue announced the deadline for taxpayers to file their 2019 Pennsylvania personal income tax returns is extended to July 15, 2020. This mirrors the new deadline the Internal Revenue Service has also set. Although the filing deadline has been extended, the Department of Revenue is encouraging taxpayers who are able to file their returns electronically to do so.
- The governor has mandated that non-life-sustaining businesses remain closed until further notice. Enforcement of this mandate began March 23. If you are a local business seeking to remain open, there is a waiver request option and you can learn more by going to https://dced.pa.gov/ That website also has information and resources to aid businesses that have been closed. Please do not call 911 to report a business that is violating this mandate.
- Several county departments have made policy changes. They can be reviewed by visiting http://waynecountypa.gov/842/COVID-19-Response
- A no-visitor policy is in effect for the Wayne County Correctional Facility and SCI-Waymart and all nursing homes statewide.
- All schools and childcare centers licensed by the commonwealth are closed.
- Adult day care centers, adult training facilities and Senior Centers are closed. However meals for seniors are still available for home delivery and pick up. Call 570-253-4262 for more details.
- All Wayne County Transportation trips for medical and medically-related needs, as well as access to food, are continuing as scheduled. Trips for other purposes, including senior-centers, employment, religious services, funeral homes, retail shopping, library and personal visits, and other recreational activities, are being canceled or postponed.
- The governor has strongly encouraged the suspension of gatherings, events and conferences of more than 10 people, and per White House guidelines, ask that individuals and groups cancel any gatherings planned over the next eight weeks.
- Wayne County President Judge Janine Edwards has declared a judicial emergency limiting the court and offices related to the court system until April 14.
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced that all facilities at state parks and forests in Pennsylvania will be closed until April 30. The public will still be able to access trails, lakes, forests, roads, and parking areas for passive and dispersed recreation, such as hiking.