Bayfield residents are starting to see glimmers of normalcy after weeks of coronavirus-related shutdowns and closures. But not everything is coming back, and the normalcy that is returning is not the same.
“It’s a very different world. Everything now, we have to think about not spreading a communicable disease,” said Mayor Ashleigh Tarkington. “It’s not so cut and dry anymore.”
While Bayfield Town Hall will reopen Friday, the town announced that the Fourth of July parade and annual block parties are canceled. The decisions came as some La Plata County businesses began to reopen May 8 under San Juan Basin Public Health’s Safer La Plata order.
“The guidelines are changing every day, so we’re just trying to evolve with those,” Tarkington said. “Everything we’re seeing in the immediate future discourages gathering, so that’s our No. 1 concern.”
Both the block parties and the July 4 parade gather big crowds, provide networking opportunities for businesses, and typically help garner donations for the local Rotary Club and other nonprofits. Their cancellation will take that away.
“We just didn’t see a world where we were allowed to have a congregation of that size,” Tarkington said.
While the parade is canceled, the town is still considering whether a fireworks show is possible. Organizers can add block party events later in the year if restrictions are lifted.
Residents will see new protocols in Town Hall. Directional arrows mark the floor, doors will be propped open in good weather and hand-sanitizer stations stand at each entrance. A sanitation crew will come through several times each day to clean common areas, and the town will provide free masks for visitors in need.
Both Town Hall and the Bayfield Marshal’s Office have reserved 9 to 10 a.m. for people who are most vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19, including older adults or those with certain medical conditions. General public hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The vestibule in Town Hall can hold five people at a time. During town board meetings, up to 10 people, mostly trustees and other town officials, can enter the boardroom. Up to five members of the public can attend meetings from the vestibule, as long as they stay socially distanced.
Even with restricted in-person attendance, the board meetings will be easier to conduct and more transparent when board members are back in the boardroom, Tarkington said.
“I want to be in there with my board and be able to have open discussions,” she said. “It’s very hard to navigate these things on Zoom.”