Council Crafts Outdoor Facilities Reopening Amid Social Distancing

The Burbank City Council confirmed the extension of social distancing rules to match those of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and reviewed possible reopening dates for outdoor areas during its virtual meeting on Tuesday.
The confirmation of the social distancing order, first issued by City Manager Justin Hess on April 23, will mirror L.A. County’s extension of its “Safer at Home” order to the same day, which also keeps Burbank eligible for potential state and federal reimbursement and aid for costs brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s transition into Stage 2 of reopening procedures on May 4, L.A. County and Burbank began allowing certain retail businesses to reopen for curbside pickup. In a staff report on Tuesday, Fire Chief Eric Garcia emphasized that though Burbank is working on its own set of initiatives to further reopen, the city will not go beyond the county’s guidelines.
He noted that the process will be implemented in phases, with strides toward reopening continuously analyzed to ensure they do not cause another spike of COVID-19 cases or further spread of the virus.
“One of the things we want to really be prepared for as well is … a flexible and adaptive and agile program that will allow us to move forward, but also understand and know that we will potentially have to take a step backward in the event that we see a spike in caseload,” Garcia said.
The resolution to confirm the order’s extension was approved 4-0, with Councilmember Jess Talamantes absent due to technical issues.

The director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, Marisa Garcia, also told the council during the meeting that it is anticipating reopening some of its facilities throughout the summer. It has tentatively scheduled the tennis center to reopen May 18 and the skate park to reopen May 26, with playgrounds also planned to reopen sometime in May.
Other areas, such as basketball courts, the Verdugo Aquatic Facility and the Summer Daze Day Camps may reopen in June. If they reopen, strict health guidelines will be implemented, including required social distancing and face coverings.
However, the Starlight Bowl Summer Concert Series, including the July 4 celebration, remains canceled. All community and special events are also canceled through June, though Parks and Recreation is working on a possible virtual Memorial Day ceremony, according to a staff report from Garcia.
The canceled events will save the city about $300,000.
Garcia emphasized that facilities would be reopened when the county says it is safe to do so, meaning its anticipated timeline may change. The city reopened trails and golf courses May 8 following the L.A. County proclamation.

Elizabeth Goldman, director of Library Services, also told councilmembers that once the library begins to reopen, possibly in mid-June, services will be conducted mainly by appointment.
More immediately, the department hopes to resume its book drop-off service within the next few weeks. There are currently no fines, and staff is asking patrons not to return all their books and videos at once, since there are about 40,000 items currently checked out.
As of the Burbank Leader’s press time on Friday, L.A. County reported 338 cases and 38 deaths in Burbank. Eric Garcia noted that most cases were from “congregate care” facilities such as nursing homes.
Eric Baumgardner, the city’s Emergency Management coordinator, also said during the meeting that St. Joseph’s Medical Center reported having more beds available than it did this time last year when it was coming out of the flu season.
Eric Garcia encouraged anyone who feels sick or is showing COVID-19 symptoms to get tested. Appointments can be made at the L.A. County Department of Public Health website.

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