Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood announced today (June 30, 2021) that some in-person City services have resumed, including providing in-person services during limited hours at the Permit Center, Finance Department, and Parks Department at Bellingham City Hall.
Fleetwood said members of the public who are not vaccinated are asked to continue to wear masks and social distance while visiting City facilities. City employees who are vaccinated will no longer be required to wear face coverings and social distance while working. Unvaccinated employees must continue to wear masks and social distance at work.
These changes are consistent with Governor Jay Inslee’s directives for statewide reopening and consistent with guidance from state and local health officials, the Governor’s Office, and the state Department of Labor and Industries.
The City’s resuming in-person services at City facilities will be gradual during the summer and most remote services will continue as they have during the pandemic, Fleetwood said. Plans and schedules are guided by City operational needs and resources as well as individual employee circumstances, including child and elder care.
He said the City’s approach, using the Governor’s words from last spring, will be “more like a dial than a switch.”
“We have successfully provided many public services using remote technologies and that will continue over the summer. We have set a post-Labor Day (September 7) target for most employees to be back at City facilities on a more regular basis,” Fleetwood said. “Our return to in-person services will be thoughtful and methodical, taking many factors into account including available resources, public and employee health, and guidance from the state and local officials.”
Some in-person services resuming June 30
The following in-person services will begin June 30, 2021. They are subject to change in the weeks and months ahead, please check with each department for details and updates.
Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie Street, lobby open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Individual City Hall public service counters open for in-person services as follows:
- Finance Department public service counter open for in-person services Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Telephone and email assistance continues Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Payments may be made online at cob.org/finance
- Permit Center open for in-person services Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Telephone and email assistance continues Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Online applications, inspections and email application submittals available 24/7 via eTRAKiT and Permits@cob.org.
- Parks & Recreation Department public service counter open for in-person services Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Telephone and email assistance continues Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parks facility reservations and program registration are also available online at cob.org/parks
Central Library, 210 Central Avenue, has been open for limited in-person services 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday since June 7. Fairhaven and Barkley branch libraries will open for limited in-person services on July 1. See bellinghampubliclibrary.org for details.
Whatcom Museum The Museum campus – Lightcatcher galleries and Old City Hall – is open at full capacity beginning July 1. Museum hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m. The Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) is open at 30% capacity, Thursday through Saturday, Noon to 5 p.m. More information at whatcommuseum.org
Fire Department Administration open for in-person services Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Telephone and email assistance continues Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. See cob.org/fire for more information.
Police Department Administration, 505 Grand Avenue, public service counter open Tuesday and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment only. Call 360-778-8800 or see cob.org/police for details.
Fleetwood emphasized that the City is “returning staff to work at City facilities” and “resuming in-person services,” not “returning to work.”
“Our City staff teams have worked tremendously hard throughout the pandemic, in both in-person and remote work settings,” he said. “Our employees’ flexibility and dedication to public services during the past 15 months has been impressive. We acknowledge these times have been challenging and we appreciate everyone’s commitment and patience.”
Health and accessibility improvements
Most public service counters have been equipped with plexiglass barriers to provide additional health protections. Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer are available to members of the public using City facilities.
In addition, most counters now have hearing loops to enhance sound quality for customers who use hearing aids or cochlear implants with a telecoil/telephone setting.
Fleetwood said there is no change to City public meetings at this time. The City will continue holding public meetings – including City Council meetings and all boards and commissions – via online platforms.
“We are awaiting further guidance from the Governor’s Office about in-person public meetings and thus do not have a date certain for when our in-person meetings will resume,” he said.
“We know that other city and county businesses and organizations are handling circumstances in different ways, depending upon their needs and interpretations of guidelines and orders. The City of Bellingham will continue to make plans based on our organizational and employee needs to serve the public and to establish policies and procedures that protect health and safety while ensuring quality, responsive City services,” he said.
“Thank you to everyone – employees, partner agencies, community members, vendors and others – for your patience. While the repercussions of the past 15 months may be long lasting, I am hopeful by this fall we will start to experience a new sense of normalcy,” he said.