BOWDOINHAM — Bowdoinham has canceled the town office curbside assistance service it started offering last week after a staff member fell ill.

The curbside, in-person transactions announced last week were called off Thursday.

The illness is not COVID-19, according to the town. The pandemic closed town offices across the state, around the time Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order calling for physical distancing and for non-essential, front-facing operations to close their physical locations.

Town Manager Tom Woodin said Thursday that the fledgling curbside service will no longer be offered to protect employee health. There was not a high demand for the service, he added.

“The convenience of curbside does not outweigh the health risks,” Woodin said. “Almost all transactions can be done online, through the mail or have been granted a grace period by the governor.”

Bowdoinham selectmen discussed reopening the town office Tuesday but decided it isn’t yet safe to do so.

“There has been a lot of public outcry about the office being closed,” said Tony Lewis, chairman of the board of selectmen.

Given the close quarters in the Bowdoinham town office and the inability to keep everyone 6 feet apart as advised by health experts, Lewis said he can’t support reopening the town office to the public at this point.

Susan Hobart, the town’s health safety officer, agreed. If residents can get access services, “I don’t see any reason why you should have the risk of anyone getting affected,” she said.

Town office services are still available by mail, email and phone. Woodin said there aren’t many transactions that can’t be done remotely or electronically, but sometimes a resident needing a new boat or car registration, for example, requests in-person attention.

“I will take all precautions necessary to protect their health and the health of the rest of the employees,” Woodin said Thursday.

 

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