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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / A sign notifying the public about restricted access to City Hall is seen outside of the building on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Due to a continued spike in local COVID-19 cases, Chattanooga will re-close City Hall and other city facilities to the public, beginning Monday.

According to a news release on Thursday, the city will suspend public access to City Hall, City Annex and city services at the Development Resource Center beginning Monday. Additionally, all branches of the public library will be closed to the public, but will continue to operate its curbside service.

"Mayor Andy Berke and the city's operations staff understands that shutting down certain city facilities has consequences for city staff and the general public. The safety of our workforce and Chattanoogans is our top priority," the news release says. "That's why we closely monitor public health data including the Harvard Global Health Initiative risk level framework for new cases per 100,000 people, trends in hospitalizations and fatalities, percentage of new cases that are epi-linked and the ways in which the virus is currently spreading in our community as described by the Hamilton County Health Department.

"And because COVID-19 knows no borders, we also consider policy interventions like mask mandates and other policies by local and regional decision-makers that may have a positive effect on health and safety. We track these metrics for a period of at least seven to 14 days to ensure we are monitoring trends and our actions are not driven by day-to-day fluctuating data."

The city has had an unknown number of cases among employees since the start of the pandemic, including public-facing cases within the fire department, city court and the Wood Recycling Center but says all other cases among city employees have been deemed to pose no risk to the public by the Hamilton County Health Department's epidemiologists.

According to the release, city departments will continue to provide all services, including police, fire and solid waste removal, but an unforeseen outbreak or additional positivity among city employees could cause a disruption in service.

The city court and clerk's office will remain open under the state Supreme Court's order that allowed for in-person proceedings to resume. However, citations can still be paid online at bit.ly/payfinecha.

Hamilton County government will maintain its in-person services at the Development Resource Center.

The city asks residents to conduct business online and by phone. A complete list of city services can be found at cha.city/cityclosures or residents can call 311 for help or (423) 643-6311.

Throughout the pandemic, the city has maintained all full-time employees, but has closed all customer-facing offices, opened offices to people with masks, re-opened and re-closed the same offices and made other changes depending on the severity of the local outbreak.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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