Temporary Closure of QVMAG
The City of Launceston has temporarily closed the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
QVMAG is closed to the public at close of business today (March 17). At this stage, the duration of the closure has not been determined and the Council will review its position in two weeks' time.
Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten said the Council had taken the decision as a precautionary measure against community transmission of the coronavirus, as well as in response to reduced demand from the community.
He said the Council was in the process of making other changes to its operations.
"The City of Launceston is actively monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, and is liaising with health authorities on our response," Mayor van Zetten said.
"The health and safety of our community and our employees are our highest priorities.
"It is important to remember that State and Federal health authorities are the lead agencies in developing and implementing Australia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in line with the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus.
"However, there are some steps that we, as a local council, can take in the interests of the health and wellbeing of our community and employees.
"The temporary closure of these facilities is among those steps, and we've been consulting with the Local Government Association of Tasmania and other Councils — like the City of Hobart — in reaching our decision."
Mayor van Zetten said employees at both QVMAG and the Launceston Leisure and Aquatic Centre would continue to work at the facilities, undertaking maintenance, planning and other projects like the QVMAG collections audit.
"We are proposing to extend all current aquatic centre memberships commensurate with the duration of the closure, and we'll be reaching out to our membership base in coming days," Mayor van Zetten said.
"We will also be working with the private operators of the commercial hospitality businesses that are housed both within QVMAG and the Launceston Leisure and Aquatic Centre, to try as much as possible to reduce impacts on them."
Mayor van Zetten said the Council had increased cleansing patrols at public facilities, had introduced staggered starting times for shifts, was promoting relevant public health information to its workforce, and exploring work from home arrangements for staff.
Changes will be made to the way Council meetings operate, with this Thursday's Council meeting moved from the traditional Council chambers to the much larger Town Hall Reception Room, which will allow for better social distancing measures.
The Council has set up two internal working groups; an incident response team and a business continuity planning team.
"This is a rapidly changing situation and we're seeking to be proactive in reducing risks in our community, as well as planning to continue to provide important services to residents," Mayor van Zetten said.
"We may be required to make further difficult decisions in the weeks and months ahead, in the interests of public health and safety.
"We'll continue to keep the community informed as we work through those challenges."