The Lawrence Township Municipal Building, which has been closed to the public since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to reopen July 7.
The decision to reopen the municipal building follows on the heels of Gov. Phil Murphy’s June 4 executive order that formally terminates New Jersey’s public health emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor’s decision was due to the decreasing cases and hospitalizations, and of more New Jersey residents getting vaccinated, Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said.
The pandemic is continuing, but the township will implement a reopening plan, he said.
When the Lawrence Township Municipal Building is reopened to the public, persons who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be required to wear face masks, Nerwinski said. Proof of vaccination will not be requested.
Visitors will enter and leave the municipal building through the north entrance, which is off the parking lot between the municipal building and the police/municipal court building, Nerwinski said. A staffed reception desk will remain at the entrance to greet visitors and direct them to their destination.
While vaccinated persons will not be required to wear face masks, municipal employees who will have interactions with the public will be encouraged to wear them, Nerwinski said.
Since the Lawrence Township Municipal Building was closed to the public on March 16, 2020, a system has been worked out that allows residents to drop off property tax payments and to conduct other business with the township. They may drop off tax payments and other documents in a secure, locked box at the north entrance to the building.
The system has worked well and with minimal inconvenience to visitors and employees, Nerwinski said. It is essential that the municipal government is able to continue its operations and deliver the expected necessary services.
Creating a safer environment with the municipal building and among the staff by limiting their interactions with the public during the pandemic allowed them to remain healthy and to carry out their job responsibilities, he said.
In a related move which took effect June 7, in-person and group meetings will be allowed to take place after 4:30 p.m., which is the end of the work day for municipal employees. Vaccinated persons will not be required to wear a face mask and they will not be asked for proof of vaccination.
The Lawrence Township Council will meet June 15 in person in the council meeting room on the upper level meeting room at the municipal building, as well as virtually, at 6 p.m.
The Lawrence Township Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, which had been set for June 16, was canceled on June 2.