The Gettysburg’s borough government and national military park are restoring some functions as Adams County today moves from the red to the yellow phase of the state’s pandemic guidelines.
Officials outlined changes Thursday during the Gettysburg Borough COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Task Force’s weekly press briefing.
For some questions, especially related to what kinds of businesses can reopen under the guidelines, officials had no clear answers, and repeatedly recommended business owners consult their own attorneys.
“We are not going to close open businesses,” Gettysburg Police Chief Robert Glenny said during the 45-minute event live-streamed from the borough hall.
Glenny does not believe he has authority to order businesses to close, but complaints won’t be ignored, he said.
Officers will observe conditions and procedures, make a record of them, determine “objectively” whether the business seems to be open appropriately under the guidelines, and share that opinion with owners and managers, the chief said.
Repeated complaints will be reviewed in collaboration with Adams County District Attorney Brian Sinnett, Glenny said.
“We are struggling to interpret” changing guidelines, Borough Manager Charles Gable said.
“Reasonable minds” can disagree about how to implement guidelines because “we’re all in uncharted territory,” he said.
“The governor’s guidelines for work and social restrictions in the ‘Yellow Phase’ are broad, and do not specifically address many of the types of businesses we have in the borough,” Gable said.
“For example, a guided walking tour considering themselves ‘outdoor recreation’ may operate if they can do so abiding by the social distancing restrictions guidelines,” he said.
Business owners are worried about being “caught in the middle” concerning mask and social distancing requirements, Glenny said.
“Our goal is to keep people safe,” rather than “arresting or citing” people, he said.
Business owners have the right to insist guests wear masks and obey social distancing, and to order them to leave if they refuse to comply, the chief said.
If refusals occur, police will treat the matter in terms of trespassing or disorderly conduct, and will not act “specifically on the mask,” Glenny said.
The pandemic curfew imposed by the borough will remain in place until the borough’s pandemic emergency decree is lifted, he said.
Parking enforcement has already resumed, but free reservations of parking spaces by restaurants for takeout service will continue, Gable said.
Code enforcement will shift to a regular footing next week instead of being complaint-driven, he said.
Issuance of permits and licenses will also resume next week, but will not constitute permission to operate outside state guidelines, Gable said.
Borough hall reopening
The borough hall will reopen by appointment Tuesday to people needing to conduct business face-to-face, but they must be masked and asymptomatic, and will be asked to use hand sanitizer and maintain social distance to protect borough workers, Gable said. Employees will sanitize surfaces after each interaction, he said.
“Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Gettysburg borough is increasing access and services using a phased approach,” Gable said.
Waste Connections will resume bulk item pickups June 1 in the borough, Gable said.
Some 120 businesses have signed up for the Main Street Gettysburg Cares program to provide free hand sanitizer, wipes, signs, and more to reopening businesses, Main Street President Deb Adamik said.
Information and resources for businesses, including information about the borough’s zero-interest loan program for pandemic-closed businesses, is at www.mainstreetgettysburg.org.
Adamik called for unity and collaboration during these trying times and said people have varying approaches to dealing with the pandemic.
“Let’s respect that” and remember “the enemy is the virus,” she said.
Furloughs on agenda
The borough council and other boards and commissions will continue to meet remotely, generally via Zoom, Gable said.
The council plans three meetings Tuesday, including a special business meeting.
The latter’s purpose, according to the borough website, is “to consider and authorize memoranda of understanding in connection with union collective bargaining agreements relative to the possible voluntary furloughing of Borough police and non-uniform employees.”
The council has discussed furloughs as one potential result of revenue cuts resulting from the pandemic.
A Community Development Block Grant public hearing is set for 6:30 p.m., the special meeting at 7:15 p.m., and a workshop session at 7:30 p.m.
The special meeting and work session are both to be live-streamed by Community Media, www.communitymedia.net and via the Gettysburg Borough Facebook page.
Register to make public comment during Tuesday’s Zoom meetings by calling Gable at 717-334-1160, ext. 222, or emailing CGable@GettysburgPA.gov.
More park access
The national military park is also adopting a phased approach to reopening in conjunction with the switch to yellow status, Superintendent Steven Sims said.
Following guidance from state and federal officials, including limiting gatherings to less than 25 people, the park will begin Saturday to allow Licensed Battlefield Guide operations, commercial operations, and special park uses, Sims said.
Grounds, roads, trails, and parking areas remain open, he said.
The Museum and Visitor Center, Eisenhower National Historic Site buildings, Wills House, public restrooms, observation towers, Pennsylvania Memorial observation level, will remain closed, he said.
Formal, scheduled interpretive programs with rangers will not be offered, but rangers will provide informal interpretation services via “intermittent roves, or visits, to different areas of the battlefield,” he said.
Landscaping and preservation activities have resumed in accordance with public health guidance, he said.