Littleton set to declare state of emergency, close public buildings

Library, museum expected to close; public meetings, including city council, likely to be suspended

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UPDATE: The City of Littleton ratified the declaration on March 20. Click here to read more.

The City of Littleton is expected to declare a state of emergency, and will close all public buildings and suspend public meetings in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, officials said on March 14.

Under the plan, Bemis Library, the Littleton Museum, city hall and the Public Works Department’s service center would all shut down to the public, City Manager Mark Relph said. The police department and city utilities would remain fully staffed, and many city employees would work from home.

Public meetings, including a regular city council meeting scheduled for March 17, would be suspended. The city council must convene with at least a quorum of four to ratify an emergency declaration from the city manager.

Relph is expected to make the declaration on March 16 or 17, and council is expected to ratify it soon after, said Mayor Jerry Valdes.

The emergency declaration will allow Littleton to better coordinate with local, state and federal agencies to allocate funding and public health resources, Relph said.

“We will reassess the situation every day,” Relph said. “We are working closely with the Tri-County Health Department. I urge people to remain calm. Communication and good information are important.”

Relph said he expected the closures to last between one and three weeks, but couldn't say for sure. The decision to declare an emergency came after extensive consultation with local and state health officials, city staff and department heads, and following emergency declarations from Gov. Jared Polis and President Donald Trump.

Under the city's emergency plan, Littleton Police Chief Doug Stephens is the city's emergency manager.

Mayor Jerry Valdes said the declaration is a wise call.

“Most of the jurisdictions around us are making similar declarations, and we believe this is prudent on our part,” Valdes said. “Hopefully this is all overblown, but we don't want to take any chances.”

Valdes said the city will closely monitor the situation for impacts on elderly or immunocompromised people, who are at greater risk from the virus, as well as people experiencing homelessness, who may have a harder time accessing medical care.

Valdes said his thoughts are also with first responders, who don't have the option to stay distant from others to prevent the spread of disease, though he said South Metro Fire Rescue and other local agencies are taking every precaution.

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