The Casper City Council at a work session on Tuesday approved a phased plan for reopening city facilities that were closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

County health officials have allowed high-contact businesses in a moderate risk category to reopen with strict infection controls to protect the health of customers and workers, according to a memo to City Manager Carter Napier from support services director Tracey Belser and risk manager Zulima Lopez.

The fitness areas in the Casper Recreation Center, 1801 E. Fourth St., and the Municipal Golf Course have reopened, but other city facilities have not, according to the memo in the work council agenda.

Tuesday, Lopez told the council meeting by teleconference about the three-phase proposal.

Phase 1 would include the Casper Aquatics Center for fitness activities only, Highland Park Cemetery, Fort Caspar Museum, solid waste facilities and Municipal Court.

The reopening would begin June 1 and continue through the month only after these facilities are prepared with mitigation practices to slow the spread of the coronavirus including checking city employees for symptoms, wearing face coverings and other personal protective equipment, washing hands, frequently sanitizing high-touch surfaces, and practicing social distancing.

This phase would limit group interactions to 10 or fewer people.

Phase 1 also would allow for the “slow and cautious” opening of services such as sports leagues, park and facility rentals, and recycling.

“It is important to note that community infection data will be monitored continuously and could impact current plans for facility re-opening and City service reinstatements,” according to the memo to Napier.

Phase 2 would reopen general service facilities such as City Hall and the Casper Service Center, 1800 E. K St., for in-person or on-site services. The mitigation practices in Phase 1 would remain in effect for Phase 2.

This phase would limit group interactions to 25 or fewer people.

Phase 3 would affect public safety facilities and critical infrastructure personnel including fire stations, treatment plants, and police and fire services that would reopen for non-essential services such as tours and classes.

The city wants to protect these first responders as much as possible.

However, council member Ken Bates said he'd like to see the number of people who could gather be 25 or fewer for Phase 1.

People already gather in such numbers at Alcova, on Casper Mountain, big-box stores, and the Eastridge Mall, Bates said.

Mike Huber agreed that people do gather in these numbers without practicing the appropriate social distancing of six feet, adding that city council can't control what happens in those places.

But the city does have control over how people gather in its buildings to keep employees and residents safe, Huber said.

"We shouldn't be motivated to lower our standards to what other places are doing," he said. “We are interested in safety for everybody.”

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