Tompkins County qualified for Phase 1 of reopening a week ago, prompting the Town and Village of Lansing to make hasty preparations for a moderate reopening of their municipal halls.  Offices will be opened on a limited basis, and both municipalities are installing plexiglass barriers on offices as quickly as they can get them delivered.  New rules are in place for employee safety, as well as for the safety of the public.  Lansing Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne said Wednesday that in addition to the plastic 'transaction windows' free face masks will be available so the public can safely conduct business inside the building.

"We've always talked in the past about the health and security for our employees," LaVigne said. "This ensures that now also because if this virus comes back, we have put these things in place to protect our employees. All the doors are locked. We'll have one of these transaction windows for the Code Office. We also have one for the Supervisor's Office, one for the Rec Department. So all those offices will be locked. "

LaVigne Said that it will be up to Town Clerk Debbie Munson's discretion whether or not the Clerk's Office door is locked. Town employees were sent a survey to determine how the reopening plan will impact their departments, looking past Phase 1 to determine what changes will be needed.  laVigne said that Munson had written a  a procedure for Lansing town clerks, employees and customers due to the coronavirus.

"So we have a lot of literature there and we've gone through the 50% capacity. You have the chart in your packet that we've developed and as more and more employees are available, we can tweak that. But right now we have plenty of room there to bring people back if we have to. The Highway Department, I believe it is at full staff."

The Village of Lansing posted a 'COVID-19 Return To Work Plan' that says all five full-time employees could safely return to work starting May 5th.  "Given that the Villages total staff is 23 people, reduction to 50% staffing would allow for a maximum of 11 people to return to the office/garage," the document reads.

The Village also installed a 'transaction window' in the Clerk's office with an opening at the bottom to pass paperwork through, and residents will be able to meet with staff members when necessary, but only if social distancing guidelines are enforced.  Meeting with Codes Enforcement Officer Michael Scott will take place in the conference room instead of in his office.

"Mike is being very careful how he meets with people," Mayor Donald Hartill reported to the Village Trustees Monday. "Again with masks, six foot social distancing and all of the correct procedures. We do have a procediure for wiping door handles and things like that. With respect to the DPW, we have signage, we're having some of the masks or just distributed there. Uh, In terms of how our staff takes lunch breaks and breaks in general, they will be in individual vehicles."

LaVigne said that he is conducting much of his work for the Town from home, using his phone and Zoom meetings.  Following Tompkins County Health Department statistics, it does seem likely that the Southern Tier region will qualify for Phase 2 of reopening, if not in a week or so, then shortly thereafter.  Phase 2 enables more businesses to reopen in some manner, including professional services, finance and insurance businesses, retail, administrative support, real estate, rental, and leasing companies.

"As we move forward in the next few weeks, we'll see if this does go to phase 2, phase 3, your phase 4," LaVigne said Wednesday.  "It's entirely up to the governor to decide and also for the, uh, committee that they have for the Southern tier region. So we'll see. So that's where we are right now."