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Bristol, Tennessee City Manager Bill Sorah has announced plans for municipal buildings and facilities to reopen to the public. Effective Tuesday, May 26, public access to city offices, including those located in City Hall and the Ewell L. Easley Municipal Annex, will resume. The reopening comes just over nine weeks after buildings were initially closed in response to the then-relatively-new coronavirus outbreak.
All visitors to city buildings will be subject to a health screening, which includes a temperature scan and questions related to potential COVID-19 exposure or symptoms. This mirrors the same screening process that all city employees have completed daily since facilities first closed in late March. Visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask when entering city buildings, and they will be available for individuals who do not have their own.
Members of the public are also encouraged to continue utilizing electronic or other alternate methods of conducting business with the city whenever possible. Payments for utility bills, citations, and current property taxes can be processed online at www.bristoltn.org/paynow. A number of applications and forms used by the planning, zoning, codes enforcement, and other divisions may also be found on the city’s website.
“We sincerely appreciate the understanding and cooperation from our citizens as we’ve adapted our service delivery to protect the health of both the public and our city employees,” said Sorah. “While the risks posed by COVID-19 remain, we have been able to minimize its impact in our region by adhering to the guidance of our state and public health officials. If we maintain this commitment as a community, we can look forward to a strong reopening of our economy and a return to life in Bristol that looks more like normal.”
Among the areas most significantly impacted during the closure period was the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. While city parks have remained open, some amenities have been unavailable for use and a number of activities have been suspended. The city previously announced that the Haynesfield Aquatic Center would not be open for the summer of 2020, and the June and July dates for the Sounds of Summer Concert Series have been canceled. This was in response to guidelines issued by Governor Bill Lee and officials with the Sullivan County Regional Health Department limiting the size of social gatherings.
“We’ve had to make some incredibly difficult decisions over the past couple of months to limit access to certain facilities and cancel activities that we know are important to our citizens,” said Parks and Recreation Director Terry Napier. “No one is more eager than we are to get back to enjoying all of the recreation opportunities we have here in Bristol, but we have to approach it responsibly with safety as our top priority.”
The Nature Center at Steele Creek Park and the administrative offices at Slater Community Center will also reopen on Tuesday, however exercise facilities at Slater will remain closed, and all classes and programs will remain suspended while plans are developed for them to safely restart. Other areas are expected to reopen gradually.
For a full list of updates to city services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with links to business and community resources, please visit www.bristoltn.org/covid19.