Special to the Opelika Observer

Since the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, City of Auburn staff members have been concerned about the well-being of Auburn residents, visitors, businesses and employees. Staff are meeting regularly to navigate how to continue serving Auburn citizens while protecting them and city employees from the spread of the virus.

“During this uncertain time, we want to let each of you know that we’re working hard to keep you safe, provide you with the services you need and keep you up-to-date with reliable information,” said Auburn City Manager Jim Buston. “Our community has shown resilience and comradery in times of distress before, and I want to express my thanks to all of you who are already lending a hand to help your neighbors in need. I’m confident that we will come out on the other side of this as an even stronger Auburn family.”

Since early March, staff have taken the following steps to ensure the safety of the community and to keep the public informed. Here’s an overview of what’s happened so far:

On March 17, the Auburn City Council adopted two resolutions, one declaring a state of local emergency and one encouraging residents and businesses to follow guidelines from public health officials. The state of local emergency gives the city manager additional tools to help expedite decisions to aid in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other resolution encouraged the community to follow these guidelines:
All non-essential and non-emergency travel is strongly discouraged between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Non-work-related public and private gatherings of persons of 25 or more are strongly discouraged.
Those businesses routinely providing services to gatherings of persons of 25 or more are strongly encouraged to limit numbers of patrons such that the six-foot social distancing standard can be maintained.
That citizens avail themselves of City of Auburn online services whenever possible.
On March 19, Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health issued an order outlining statewide guidelines including prohibiting non-work related gatherings of 25 people or more and on-premise consumption of food or drink at any restaurant, bar, brewery or similar establishment.
All city buildings are closed to walk-in services through April 5. City staff are still serving residents through all electronic means possible including online applications, email, social media and phone.
The Auburn Public Library has transitioned to a resource center for residents looking for information and assistance. Library staff members are available to answer questions at 334-501-7307 and weblibrary@auburnalabama.org. Those with an immediate need that cannot be handled electronically can contact the helpline and staff will work to individually meet needs the best we can.
All in-court proceedings at the Auburn Municipal Court have been suspended through April 16.
The outdoor basketball courts at Boykin Community Center and Frank Brown Recreation Center are closed, and all Parks and Recreation programs and reservations have been canceled through April 5 along with the following events:
-Bark in the Park
-Tails n Trails
-Ride and Seek
-Earth Day programs for Auburn City Schools’ second graders
-Breakfast with the Bunny
-Easter Egg Hunt
-Spring Skate Jam

All athletic programs have been suspended through April 5. We will reevaluate the season status and send out an update at that time. If the season is canceled, we will issue a statement concerning how refunds will be processed.
On March 19, we announced that businesses unable to pay their February, March and April 2020 sales, use, lodging, rental and leasing tax liabilities will not be charged penalties for late payments through June 1.
On March 20, the Water Works Board of the City of Auburn announced it will not disrupt services for late payments and will not charge late fees or delinquent account fees through April 16.
Mayor Ron Anders has regularly shared video updates through the City’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

More resources and updates regarding the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at auburnalabama.org/coronavirus.