Officials in South Portland, Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth have all confirmed reopening or plans to reopen municipal buildings after closures or restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

While all communities stressed the need to abide by certain guidelines from the Maine Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, the number of buildings still remaining closed is shrinking. Here is where each community stands right now.

South Portland

Officials announced on March 10 the rescinding of the last citywide pandemic-related restriction, which applied to housing, nursing homes and other facilities catering to seniors, according to Assistant City Manager Joshua Reny. The original restrictions, he said, limited access to those facilities to residents/patients and staff. Reny said state guidelines, and some guidelines imposed by the facilities themselves, already cover the same ground.

“It was a bit duplicative and unnecessary,” he said.

Reny did, however, encourage families who wish to now visit loved ones to call ahead and make sure no other guidelines are preventing visits.

As for municipal buildings, Reny said only two remain closed: The Hamlin Building on Ocean Street, which houses the city’s planning and development departments, and the South Portland Library. Right now, he said, the public may visit the Hamlin Building with an appointment, but the city is planning to re-open the building to walk-in visits on April 5.

“Our preference is still to do as much business as possible over the telephone or online,” he said.

The library currently offers curbside service, but Reny said a May 24 opening is planned. Details, such as how many people will be allowed in the library at any one time are still being worked out.

Scarborough

Assistant Town Manager Liam Gallagher said most public buildings are open, with the exception of the town’s public works facility. When asked when it might reopen, Gallagher said, “We don’t have definite plans or time timeline for that.”

Like Reny, Gallagher encouraged telephone or online business and said so far it appeared that while some people preferred to do business at town hall in person, volumes have not been overwhelming.

Gallagher noted that public officials will still be holding meetings online via Zoom, as they have been since March 2020.

“We expect that to continue for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Cape Elizabeth

Cape Elizabeth’s town hall is the only one out of all three towns that remains closed to walk-in service. Town Manager Matthew Sturgis said the building’s small size makes it difficult to conduct business while still observing social distancing requirements. That said, Sturgis added that town officials want to re-open town hall, and while no official date has been set, they are considering a May 1 opening. Sturgis said it depends on volumes of vaccinations, both statewide and among municipal staff, along with statewide trends regarding COVID-19 cases.

“We’re watching the numbers very closely,” he said.

Thomas Memorial Library, Sturgis said, also remains closed to walk-ins, but that might change in April. At the recycling center, he said, the bottle shed has re-opened, but not the swap shop. Sturgis said he hoped to see that open this summer.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” he said.

The police station, fire station and public works buildings, Sturgis said, also remain closed, and for now town officials do not have a re-opening plan for them.

“Those were not what you’d call high-traffic public access buildings in the first place,” he said.

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