The grand opening of a new fire station. A sustainability workshop. A town hall to discuss new designs for the rail corridor.
These events in Palo Alto, as well as dozens of others scheduled for what was shaping up to be busy March at City Hall, will now be postponed, modified or, in many cases, scrapped altogether as part of the city's response to the new coronavirus' spread. Palo Alto officials announced Monday evening that it is modifying or canceling more than 30 events to limit the spread of respiratory viruses and protect residents at the highest risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19.
So far, the city has been considering only events extending to March 31. But as the virus continues to spread, the announcement noted that the city may expand the time period of its "cancellation approach" at any time. While City Council meetings, as well as those of local boards and commissions, will proceed as scheduled, the city will be canceling all events with an estimated attendance of more than 100 people or those whose attendance is unknown but that may draw a larger attendance, according to an announcement from City Manager Ed Shikada's office.
So far, the list of canceled or postponed city events covers several departments:
• The Expanded Community Advisory Panel for grade separation not meet on March 11, as originally scheduled (see list below for future meetings and locations)
• Rail Town Hall meetings, which were scheduled for March 12 at Palo Alto High School and March 26 at Elks Lodge.
• Document shredding event, scheduled for March 14 at the SMaRT Station in Sunnyvale.
• Palo Alto Masters Meet, which was set for March 14 at Rinconada Pool. Pool operator Team Sheeper also announced a one-day closure of the pool on Thursday, March 12, so staff could evaluate how to keep patrons safe.
• The Art Center Foundation Member Day Trip to Sacramento, which was scheduled for March 14.
• Landscape Design 101: How to Get Started, a class that was scheduled for March 14 at Mitchell Park Library.
• Arbor Day Festival, which was scheduled for March 15 at the Palo Alto Art Center.
• "Word on the Street" transportation talk, which was scheduled for March 19 at JLS Middle School.
• Fire Station 3 grand opening and open house, which was scheduled for March 21.
• North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan Working Group Meeting, which was scheduled for March 24 at City Hall.
• Racing Hearts 5K/10K Race, which was scheduled for March 29 but was canceled by the event organizer.
• Sustainability Community Workshop, which was scheduled for March 31 at Mitchell Park Community Center.
A complete list is available here. This list will be updated as the city sends more announcement on changes.
The city also announced that several events and programs will be adjusted with revised locations or reductions in ticket numbers, in line with Santa Clara County Public Health Department guidance on social distancing:
• The Expanded Community Advisory Panel for grade separation is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, March 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers. The panel is also tentatively scheduled to meet on March 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Palo Alto Art Center.
• Children's Theatre - Outreach Production: Multiple dates at Palo Verde Elementary.
• Palo Alto Children's Theatre - Playhouse Beauty and the Beast: Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28, shows at 10 a.m. and noon.
The city, according to Shikada's announcement, has already implemented numerous operational changes in response to the COVID-19 public health risk. These include supplying protective gear for field staff; expanding 911 dispatcher protocols to support police, fire, emergency medical first responders and utilities staff; providing more hand sanitizer stations; and enhancing cleaning efforts in public facilities.
"The City is evaluating modifications to service delivery and other efforts to maintain City staffing levels and providing essential services through thoughtful planning for several impact scenarios," the announcement states. "The City anticipates more details to be released later this week on longer-term planning and potential service delivery modifications."
Read our latest updates on local coronavirus cases here.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.