Lawrence Township officials have closed the Lawrence Senior Center and are cutting back on the days when the Lawrence Township Municipal Building will be open as they try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“Based on the information that we have, the (COVID-19) crisis is real and it is spreading in the United States and in New Jersey,” Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said.
Nerwinski said the decision was made March 16 to close the Lawrence Township Municipal Building on Thursday and Friday for the next two weeks. The goal is to reduce activity in the building for the health and safety of the employees and the public.
“I am confident that for the next two weeks, we can maintain our services working Monday through Wednesday,” Nerwinski said.
“Shutting down completely is not an option for us because we have an obligation to serve our community and to continue to provide needed services,” he said.
“This is a very fluid situation, with new information being received hourly. I am thinking in two-week increments, but I also know that at any moment, I may have to respond to new information that will impact the ‘two-week’ planning,” he said.
If residents have questions or concerns, they should call or email Lawrence Township officials instead of going to the Lawrence Township Municipal Building, Nerwinski said.
But those who do visit the Lawrence Township Municipal Building are being funneled to the north entrance, off the parking lot between the municipal building and the Lawrence Township Police/Court building.
A reception desk has been set up and all visitors must check in. They are being provided with information about preventative action, and encouraged not to conduct business in the building if they have flu-like or respiratory symptoms.
Nerwinski said he is concerned about the well-being of all township residents, but the most vulnerable group of residents with regard to COVID-19 are those who are at least 60 years old.
To protect the township’s senior citizen population, some changes are being made at the Lawrence Senior Center on E. Darrah Lane.
The Lawrence Senior Center building will be closed except for limited hours to accommodate the Mercer County Nutrition Program, which provides lunch for senior citizens, Nerwinski said.
Lunches will be available for pickup only at the Lawrence Senior Center on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Seniors who are sick should stay home, he said.
Also to protect residents, the public restrooms at the Lawrence Township-maintained parks will be locked, Nerwinski said.
Meanwhile, emergency responders – police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians – will be required to continue with their responsibilities “with much gratitude from me, our elected officials and the community,” Nerwinski said.
Protective measures are being taken at the Lawrence Township Police Department headquarters, starting with encouraging residents to report incidents online or by calling the non-emergency telephone number at 609-896-1111. There is a link to the Police Department’s online reporting system at www.lawrencetwp.com.
Visitors to the Lawrence Township Police Department lobby will be greeted by dispatchers and employees from behind glass partitions. If paperwork needs to be exchanged, it will be done through slots – and only after the visitor uses hand sanitizer.
Visitors who have had a fever or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 are discouraged from entering the Lawrence Township Police Departtment headquarters lobby.
In addition, public fingerprinting has been suspended for 30 days. Tours of the Police Department headquarters also are being suspended for 30 days.
Residents can be assured that police officers will continue to answer calls for help with the same high level of professionalism that they have always had, Police Chief Brian Caloiaro said.
Mayor Jim Kownacki also reassured residents that the elected officials, appointed officials and township employees “are working hard on your behalf in response to this health crisis.”
“It is important to remain calm, to stay informed and to act responsibly as we work through this crisis. This is a time for our community to be at our best, and I am confident that we will be,” Mayor Kownacki said.