COVID-19 Updates

Questions can be directed to:
Email:              covid19@rockportma.gov
Phone:             978-546-5000 ext. 4COVID (426843)
Emergencies:  911
*Messages left with both accounts are checked regularly and will be directed to the appropriate person/department.  There is a high volume of messages on both accounts; thank you for your patience.
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Current Case Count: 76
Number of Cases in Above Count from Long Term Care & Congregate Living Facilities: 37

*As of 5/25/2020 4PM; Updated Weekly on Mondays between 4-6PM.
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5/25/2020 Weekly CodeRED Message:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, May 25, 2020 at 4:00PM.  I am calling with the weekly Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this call, the COVID-19 total case count for Rockport is 76, which includes those that have recovered.   This number includes 37 cases in Long Term Care Facilities and Congregate Living Facilities in Rockport. The Town will have updated data breakdowns, which will be discussed at the Board of Health meeting Thursday evening; the data will be posted to the COVID-19 alerts page on the Town website the morning after the meeting.

The case count for Essex County is 13,457 as of yesterday.  The Governor’s “Safer at Home” advisory is still in place.  It reminds all to wear face coverings or masks when unable to physically distance, wash hands, self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if you exhibit them, and keep up physical distancing of at least 6 feet whenever possible.  It is important to wear face coverings or masks as testing availability remains lower than ideal and there are most likely many asymptomatic carriers of the virus.  The Board of Health order requiring face coverings at all times in the Downtown district is still in place.

-The Town’s Re-Opening Advisory Group is diligently working on plans and information that will assist the Board of Selectmen and Board of Health in their ongoing re-opening discussions. The group is also working on materials for businesses to assist with complying with the state’s requirements; businesses can find this information on the homepage of the  Town website. For detailed information on this topic from the state, please visit www.mass.gov/reopening .

The Boards of Selectmen and Health continue to meet weekly and are closely monitoring the pandemic and the need to add to or reduce restrictions and public health orders.

A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website, rockportma.gov, are updated as new information becomes available.  Questions may be directed to covid19@rockportma.gov or 978-546-5000 ext. 4COVID.  Those with emergencies should call 911. 

Barring any emergent issues, the next weekly Code RED call will be next Monday, June 1, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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5/18/2020 Weekly CodeRED Message:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, May 18, 2020 at 5:30PM.  I am calling with the weekly Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this call, the COVID-19 total case count for Rockport is 73, which includes those that have recovered.   This number includes 37 cases in Long Term Care Facilities and Congregate Living Facilities in Rockport.  The Town is maintaining close contact with both types of facilities, including leveraging state resources. We are working towards additional data points that we hope to share in the near future.

The case count for Essex County is 12,462 as of yesterday.  The Governor has issued a “Stay Safer at Home” advisory that reminds all to wear face coverings masks when unable to physically distance, wash hands, self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if you exhibit them, and keep up physical distancing of at least 6 feet whenever possible.

-A reminder that the Annual Town Election has been rescheduled to Tuesday, June 30, 2020.  Please visit the Town website for information from the Town Clerk on requesting an absentee or early voting ballot.

-A reminder that the Board of Selectmen have postponed all Memorial Day services and the parade.  These will be rescheduled.

-The Town is diligently monitoring the information coming from the Commonwealth relating to re-opening and is prepared to work with the business community as the process unfolds over the next few weeks.  We are finalizing our local re-opening advisory group, which will be announced at the Board of Selectmen Meeting.  For detailed information on this topic, please visit www.mass.gov/reopening.

The Boards of Selectmen and Health continue to meet weekly and are closely monitoring the pandemic and the need to add to or reduce restrictions and public health orders.

A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website, rockportma.gov, are updated as new information becomes available.  Questions may be directed to covid19@rockportma.gov or 978-546-5000 ext. 4COVID.  Those with emergencies should call 911. 

Barring any emergent issues, the next weekly Code RED call will be next Monday, May 25, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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5/11/2020 Weekly CodeRED Message:
 

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, May 11, 2020 at 5:30PM.  I am calling with the weekly Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this call, the COVID-19 total case count for Rockport is 71, which includes those that have recovered.   This number includes 35 cases in Long Term Care Facilities and Congregate Living Facilities in Rockport.  The Town is maintaining close contact with both types of facilities, including leveraging state resources. We are working towards additional data points that we hope to share in the near future.

The case count for Essex County is 11,432 as of today.  We must all keep up the preventative measures, including staying home, physical distancing, wearing face coverings/masks, and hand washing.

-A reminder that the Annual Town Election previously scheduled for tomorrow, May 12, has been postponed.  A new date will be selected in the near future and communicated out.

-The Annual Town Meeting is also still postponed with new date yet to be determined.

-To those coming back into Town from out of state, you are reminded that per the Governor’s order, you are to quarantine for 14 days upon your arrival.

The Boards of Selectmen and Health continue to meet weekly and are closely monitoring the pandemic and the need to add to or reduce restrictions and public health orders.

Please keep up all preventative measures; everyone is cognizant of the fact that it is difficult to maintain these for so long but we all must do our part.

A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website, rockportma.gov, are updated as new information becomes available.  Questions may be directed to covid19@rockportma.gov or 978-546-5000 ext. 4COVID.  Those with emergencies should call 911. 

Barring any emergent issues, the next weekly Code RED call will be next Monday, May 18, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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5/8/2020 Face Covering/Mask Amended Order CodeRED Message:

Good afternoon, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It is Friday, May 8, 2020 at 4PM.  I am calling to inform you of an important update from the Board of Health relating to their Face Covering and Mask Order. 

At their meeting last night, The Board of Health voted the following:

Effective immediately, The Town has adopted the Governor’s face covering order, including its exemptions, for all areas of Town.  In addition, the Board of Health has determined that because of the difficulty of physical distancing, masks are required at all times in the Downtown district unless there is an applicable exemption.  A map defining the Downtown district is available on the Town website, rockportma.gov and on the Town’s social media accounts.  Further, individuals must have a mask on their person at all times in public outside of their personal property to ensure they can utilize it if unable to physically distance.  The Rockport Police Department is empowered to enforce this order.  The primary focus is education on the importance of wearing a face covering or mask and compliance with the order. A fine of up to $300 may be issued for willful non-compliance.  Please, do your part and wear your face covering or mask.  Please note, this order does not replace physical distancing, which remains important.

The Board of Health is meeting on a weekly basis and will continue to assess the status of this pandemic and issue additional orders and advisories, as appropriate.

Please keep up all preventative measures, including distancing and hand washing, and be well.

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5/4/2020 Weekly CodeRED Message:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, May 4, 2020 at 5:15PM.  I am calling with the weekly Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this call, the COVID-19 total case count for Rockport is 46, this number includes individuals that have recovered.  We will not be providing further information on the specific cases.

The case count for Essex County is 9,773 as of today.  We must all keep up the preventative measures, including staying home, physical distancing, wearing face masks/coverings, and hand washing.

-The Board of Selectmen have postponed the Memorial Day Parade and Ceremonies.  A new date will be selected for later this year.

-The Boards of Selectmen and Health continue to meet on a weekly basis to review the status of the pandemic as well as the restrictions that are in place under the state of emergency and public health emergency, respectively.  Adjustments will be made as appropriate.

-The Board of Health staff are diligently working with restaurants to allow for takeout and delivery.  Each restaurant desiring to re-open is submitting a plan in compliance with state COVID-19 requirements and on-site inspections are taking place upon plan approval.

The Town still has children’s face masks available, please call the COVID hotline or email the Town’s COVID address and the Town’s emergency services departments will make a contactless delivery.  When calling or emailing, please leave your address as well as the number of children needing a mask in the household. 

The Council on Aging has a limited number of masks for seniors thanks to a recent donation.  Please use the COVID hotline or email address to request them.  Please be sure to include address and the number needed.

Please don’t let fatigue set in as it relates to these preventative measures; everyone is cognizant of the fact that it is difficult to maintain these for so long but we all must do our part.

A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website, rockportma.gov, are updated as new information becomes available.  Questions may be directed to covid19@rockportma.gov or 978-546-5000 ext. 4COVID.  Those with emergencies should call 911. 

Barring any emergent issues, the next weekly Code RED call will be next Monday, May 11, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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5/1/2020 Boards of Selectmen and Health Orders/CodeRED Message:

Good afternoon, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It is Friday, May 1, 2020 at 3:15PM.  I am calling to inform you of important decisions from the Boards of Selectmen and Health. 

The Board of Health has issued the following public health order:

Effective immediately, all individuals over the age of 4 shall wear a face covering or mask in public outside of their personal property.  This order is mandatory except for the operator of a motor vehicle; they are not required to wear a face covering/mask while operating their vehicle.  The Rockport Police Department is empowered to enforce this order.  The primary focus is education on the importance of wearing a face covering or mask and compliance with the order. A fine of up to $300 may be issued for willful non-compliance.  Please, do your part and wear your face covering or mask.  Please note, this order does not replace physical distancing, which remains important.

Additionally, the Board of Selectmen have voted effective immediately to make all Parking on T-Wharf Resident and Commercial Fishermen only.

Both Boards are meeting on a weekly basis and will continue to assess the status of this pandemic and issue additional orders and advisories, as appropriate.

Please keep up all preventative measures, including distancing and hand washing, and be well.

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4/28/2020 Taxpayer Notice - Deferral of Late Fees and Penalties on Taxes/CodeRED Message:

Good morning, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It is Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 11AM.  I am calling to inform you that the Board of Selectmen has voted to defer late fees and penalties on Real Estate and Personal Property Taxes that are due on May 1, 2020 and Motor Vehicle Excise Taxes due after March 10, 2020.  Late fees and penalties are deferred through June 29, 2020.  Payment must be received by the Town, not postmarked, by that date to qualify for the deferral.  Pursuant to the state authorization to defer, payments received June 30, 2020 or later will be assessed late fees and penalties back to the original due date.  The Town has the following payment options available:

-A secure drop box, located at the rear door of Town Hall, which is accessible 24 hours a day

-Convenient online payment options on the Town website, rockportma.gov, click on Pay Bills on the home screen.

-Mail your payment in, along with the remittance provided, to the address indicated on the document.  Please ensure that it is mailed with enough time to arrive by June 29. 

Should you require a stamped receipt, please be sure to include both the remittance and the taxpayer portions of your bill along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Questions may be directed to the Office of the Treasurer/Collector at 978-546-6648.  Please keep in mind we are operating with reduced staffing on-site and there may be a delayed response.  Thank you for your patience. 

Please keep up all preventative measures and be well.

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4/27/2020 5:30PM CodeRED Message:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, April 27, 2020 at 5:30PM.  I am calling with the weekly Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this call, the COVID-19 total case count for Rockport is 33, this number includes individuals that have recovered.  We will not be providing further information on the specific cases.

The case counts in Essex County, 7,708 as of today, and throughout the Commonwealth continue to rise steadily.  It is crucial that you keep up all preventative measures, including staying home.

-The Board of Health continues to strongly encourage you to wear a cloth facemask or covering whenever you are out in public.  This strong recommendation applies to everyone over the age of 2.  Remember, you are doing this to protect others in addition to physical distancing and regular hand washing.

Please don’t let fatigue set in as it relates to these preventative measures; We recognize that the weather is getting better and everyone wants to be outside, visiting with friends and family, but we are not there yet.  We must still continue all preventative practices.

For those that are in need of a children’s face mask who were not able to pick one up from the Police Station this past week, please call the COVID hotline or email the Town’s COVID address and the Town’s emergency services departments will make a contactless delivery.  When calling or emailing, please leave your address as well as the number of children needing a mask in the household.  Unfortunately, we do not have adult masks for distribution at this time.

A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website, rockportma.gov, are updated as new information becomes available.  Questions may be directed to covid19@rockportma.gov or 978-546-5000 ext. 4COVID.  These will serve central points for inquiries; those with emergencies should call 911. 

There will be a CodeRED message tomorrow between 10AM-Noon with information regarding the Board of Selectmen’s vote on deferring late fees and penalties for taxes; we are finalizing the specifics and adjusting our computer system to meet the vote outcome.

Barring any emergent issues, the next weekly Code RED call will be next Monday, May 4, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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4/20/2020 5:15PM CodeRED Message:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, April 20, 2020 at 5:15PM.  I am calling with the weekly Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this call, the COVID-19 total case count for Rockport is 23, this number includes individuals that have recovered.  We will not be providing further information on the specific cases.

The case count in Essex County, 5,153 as of yesterday, and throughout the Commonwealth continues to rise steadily.  It is crucial that you keep up all preventative measures, including staying home.

-The Board of Health continues to strongly encourage you to wear a cloth facemask or covering whenever you are out in public.  This applies to everyone over the age of 2 – no exceptions.  Remember, you are doing this to protect others in addition to social and physical distancing, as recommended by the CDC and DPH.

A reminder to parents during this school vacation week:

-Please ensure that your children are following all preventative measures, including wearing a facemask outside, not congregating in groups, and properly distancing themselves.

Please don’t let fatigue set in as it relates to these preventative measures; we must all do our part to protect each other and minimize the spread, especially from those that may be asymptomatic.

A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website, rockportma.gov, are updated regularly as information becomes available.  Questions may be directed to covid19@rockportma.gov or 978-546-5000 ext. 4COVID.  These will serve central points for inquiries; those with emergencies should call 911. 

Barring any emergent issues, the next Code RED call will be next Monday, April 27, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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4/13/2020 5PM CodeRED Message:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, April 13, 2020 at 5PM.  I am calling with a Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this call, there are currently 14 COVID-19 cases in Rockport, this number includes individuals that have recovered.  We will not be providing further information on the specific cases.

The case counts in Essex County, currently 3,413, and throughout the Commonwealth continue to rise steadily.  It is crucial that you keep up all preventative measures, including staying home.

The Board of Health has voted the following Public Health Orders:

-Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a cloth face mask or covering whenever they are out in public.  This applies to everyone over the age of 2 – no exceptions.

-Everyone entering essential businesses and food establishments must wear a face mask or covering and all employees working in these locations must wear a mask or covering at all times when on the premises.

Please heed these public health orders from the Board of Health.  We must all do our part to stop the spread and flatten the curve.  These orders do not remove the requirement to socially and physically distance.

A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website, rockportma.gov, are updated regularly.  Questions may be directed to covid19@rockportma.gov or 978-546-5000 ext. 4COVID.  These will serve central points for inquiries; those with emergencies should call 911. 

Barring any emergent issues, the next Code RED call will be next Monday, April 20, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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4/11/2020:

At their most recent meeting, the Rockport Board of Health issued the following Public Health Orders, effective immediately:

-Everyone entering essential businesses and food establishments must wear a face mask or covering. The Board strongly recommends cloth face coverings; save surgical and N95 masks for first responders and healthcare workers.

-All employees of essential businesses and food establishments must wear a face mask or covering at all times when on the premises. The Board strongly recommends cloth face coverings; save surgical and N95 masks for first responders and healthcare workers.

Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a cloth face mask or covering whenever out in public.

Important note: This does NOT remove the need for physical distancing and all other preventative measures!

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4/6/2020 / Text of CodeRED Message 4/6/2020 5PM:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, April 6, 2020 at 5PM.  I am calling with a Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this email, there are currently 8 COVID-19 cases in Rockport.  We will not be providing further information on the specific cases.

The case counts in Essex County, currently 1,653, and throughout the Commonwealth continue to rise steadily.  Now is the time for everyone to adhere to social distancing and other preventative measures.  The recent good weather may have lowered your guard but please keep it up.  We must all continue as we have for the last few weeks if we want to flatten the curve of this virus.

 If it is not vital for you to be going out, other than for exercise, going to work for those in essential positions, getting groceries or going to the pharmacy, or things of that nature, please stay home.  If you must go out, please make sure that you are socially distancing.

A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website, rockportma.gov, are updated regularly with information.  We will also be sharing an enhanced webpage and information system with you in the next few days.  Questions relating to the Town’s efforts to combat this virus may be directed to covid19@rockportma.gov.  This will serve as a central point for inquiries; those with emergencies should call 911. 

Barring any emergent issues, the next Code RED call will be next Monday, April 13, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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4/4/2020 / Text of CodeRED Message from 4/4/2020 12 Noon:

Good afternoon, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Saturday, April 4, 2020 at Noon.  I am calling with a Town COVID-19 update. 

At an emergency Board of Selectmen meeting this morning, the following restrictions were approved and are in effect as of noon today until further notice:

- All beaches and parks are restricted to residents only.

- Bearskin Neck is restricted to Rockport residents and bearskin neck business owners only.  Vehicle and foot traffic is allowed for residents and business owners.

- All dogs are to be leashed at all times on beaches and in parks.  Dog owners are reminded to appropriately restrain their dogs around others and avoid touching other dogs you encounter.  Please note, the leash restrictions do not currently apply to woods and trails.  If issues arise, the Board will revisit this topic.

- The Seaview St. and Old Garden Beach parking lots are closed.

- The Boat ramp at Granite Pier is restricted to appointments only and emergency use.

- There will be parking restrictions on Granite St. in the area of Halibut Point State Park and the Lobster Pool.

- All previous restrictions remain in full force and effect. 

Barring any emergent issues, the next Code RED call will be next Monday, April 6, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

Recording of Emergency Selectmen's Meeting: https://zoom.us/rec/share/1e8tE6DbqXtIR53NuEbdHYEhE7vBX6a82ilM-fdfmUzBPr...

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3/30/2020 / Some helpful information on several topics:

Commonwealth of MA COVID-19 website: mass.gov/covid19

- The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has established a new COVID-19 symptom checker system in partnership with Buoy Health. Please visit: www.buoy.com/mass to utilize the system.

- For those who have seen their employment or business impacted by COVID-19, please see the link below for detailed information from the Dept. of Unemployment Assistance. The DUA continues to update the information regularly and many claims are eligible for expeditious processing.  Please visit this website: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-covid-19-unemployment-in...

- Pursuant to the Governor's order: "Beginning March 27, all travelers arriving to Massachusetts are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. This guidance will be displayed as posters at service plazas along 1-90 eastbound, distributed as flyers at major transportation hubs and on posted on highway message boards. Visitors are instructed not to travel to Massachusetts if they are displaying symptoms. Health care workers, public health workers, public safety workers, transportation workers and designated essential workers are exempt from this requirement."

- To assist those who have had their employment status adversely impacted by COVID-19, the Dept. of Unemployment Assistance is hosting several virtual town hall meetings to assist individuals with filing a claim. Here is the link to sign up: https://www.mass.gov/forms/massachusetts-department-of-unemployment-assi...

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3/30/2020 / Text of CodeRED Message from 3/30/2020 5PM:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It’s Monday, March 30, 2020 at 5PM.  I am calling with a Town COVID-19 update.  As of the date and time of this message, there are currently 7 COVID-19 cases in Rockport.  We will not be providing further information on the specific cases.

The Governor has indicated that they expect a surge in cases over the next few weeks as testing increases so it is critical that we all practice the CDC and DPH preventative measures:

- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
- Practice social distancing – staying at least 6 feet away from others
- If it is not vital for you to be going out, other than for exercise, going to work, getting groceries or going to the pharmacy, or things of that nature, please stay home.  If you must go out, please make sure that you are socially distancing.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has shared many helpful resources on their COVID-19 website: mass.gov/covid19.  We also have links to this on the Town’s website rockportma.gov under the COVID-19 Update News Item on the homepage. A reminder to please contact your healthcare provider or the State’s 211 hotline if you have symptoms.  Calling 911 should be reserved for emergencies only.

The Town’s social media accounts and website are updated regularly, often several times a day, with the latest information on COVID-19.  Barring any emergent issues, the next Code RED call will be next Monday, April 6, 2020 between 4-6PM.  Thank you and be well.

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3/27/2020 / Text CodeRED Message from 3/27/20 6:45PM:

Good evening,

This office will be putting out weekly Code RED calls on Monday evenings for the next several weeks with the latest Town updates regarding COVID-19, including the number of confirmed cases in Town. The information will also be posted on this page and all Town social media accounts and the Town website - rockportma.gov under the Coronavirus Update news item on the home page.  The website and social media accounts will be updated on an ongoing basis/in some cases, daily as new information is available.

To ensure that you have the latest information, please sign up for Code RED on the Town website (click the Code RED tab for enrollment options).

If there are immediate/time-sensitive concerns, we will issue additional Code RED messages as required.

Mitch Vieira
Town Administrator

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3/23/2020 / Text of CodeRED Message from 3/23/20 4PM:

Good evening this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It is Monday, March 23, 2020 at 4PM.  I am reaching out with an important COVID-19 update on behalf of the Board of Selectmen.  As of the date and time of this message, there are now two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rockport.  This occurrence was expected as the virus spreads. As testing increases, we expect the number of cases to rise here and across the Commonwealth.  The Board of Health’s Public Health Nurse is conducting the required investigation and contact tracing with the individuals, who are following all social isolation protocols either at home or in a healthcare facility.  If you are not contacted by the Public Health Nurse, you are not considered a direct contact; there will be no further information provided about the individuals pursuant to federal and state privacy laws.

It is critically important to continue the ongoing preventative measures that are being shared by the CDC and MA Dept. of Public Health, especially social distancing and regular hand washing.  I implore everyone to follow these measures as well as other information shared by DPH and the CDC. If you don’t need to be out of your home, please stay there – this goes for all age groups, not just those considered vulnerable.  This is our opportunity to flatten the curve of this virus.  Anyone that displays symptoms associated with COVID-19 should first contact their primary care physician or the state’s 2-1-1 hotline.  Calling 911 should be restricted to emergencies only.  If emergency care is required, please be sure to provide all symptoms to the dispatcher at that time.

To our business community, pursuant to the Governor’s order, all non-essential businesses are required to close effective March 24, 2020 at Noon.  To those businesses classified as essential, you must ensure that social distancing and all safeguards are in place.  If you are unable to, please close through April 6.  The list of essential positions and businesses is posted on the Town website under the Coronavirus Update news item.  Town Offices will remain closed to the public through April 6 with limited staff handling phone calls and emails.  Payments and correspondence can be dropped off at the rear door of Town Hall for all departments.

A specific area that requires social distancing is the Transfer Station.  While this location serves as a hub of activity in Town, extra care and attention to social distancing is required while using this site.  Please follow the directions of Transfer Station staff; they will be limiting the number of vehicles in at any one time.

In closing, please continue to check the Town website, rockportma.gov, for detailed information as well as the Town’s social media accounts.  Thank you for doing your part for our collective health.  Be well.

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3/20/2020:

A clarification on yesterday's closure post: Parks and beaches remain open for those wishing to utilize them for passive activity, walking, and other non-contact/non-group activities. No sports/pickup games allowed and no group gatherings. The equipment referenced in yesterday's post (copied below) remains closed until further notice. Thanks for your continued cooperation.

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3/19/2020 Message:

Effective today, March 19, 2020 at 10:30AM, all Town and School playgrounds, playscapes, swings, basketball & tennis courts, the skate park, and athletic fields are closed until further notice.

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3/19/2020 / Text of CodeRED message from 3/19/20 10:30AM:

Good Morning,

Effective today, March 19, 2020 at 10:30AM, all Town and School playgrounds, playscapes, swings, basketball & tennis courts, the skate park, and athletic fields are closed until further notice.  

Please note: this Code Red message is being sent via email and text only; there is no phone call.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Mitch Vieira
Town Administrator

Rob Liebow
Superintendent of Schools

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3/16/2020 / Text of CodeRED Message from 3/16/2020 6PM:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It is Monday, March 16, 2020 at 6PM.  This call is to provide you with the latest information from the Town of Rockport relating to COVID-19.  As of the date and time of this message, there are currently no cases in Rockport.  As many of you know, Governor Baker and the Commonwealth have issued additional restrictions relating to gatherings and food establishments.  You can find links to the information that the Commonwealth has issued on the Town website, rockportma.gov, under the Coronavirus Update news item on the homepage.  Since the last call, The Town has the following new information for you:

- The Board of Health has been in communication with all restaurants to share guidance and information as those that opt to stay open transition to to-go only.

- The Board of Selectmen has declared a local state of emergency as of 10AM this morning.  This declaration allows the Town to seek reimbursement for expenses associated with the response to this public health crisis.  It is important to note that this does not affect the general public and does not indicate that there is any increase in severity of the situation in Rockport.

- The Commonwealth has provided significant resources for small businesses and those who may be affected and need to seek unemployment assistance.  That information can be found on the Town website.  Further, the state has set up a 211 hotline for any questions that citizens have; this is a helpful resource for everyone to take note of, especially those without or with limited access to, a computer or device.

I will continue to send out these messages periodically to keep you informed but please continue to check our social media channels and the Town website for information as we work through this public health crisis together.

Most importantly, it is vital that we all heed the warnings for social distancing and other preventative measures as we work to flatten the impact curve of this virus.

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RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES FROM THE COMMONWEALTH:

Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program

EIDL offers Massachusetts businesses who are experiencing hardships resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak access up to $2M in emergency loan capital with rates capped at 3.75%.

We are currently working with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to activate the EIDL program. We will update this group when the program formally opens.

Businesses can learn more about the SBA’s response to COVID-19 here: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources


The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development offers resources for businesses related to employee benefits and will post additional guidance as it becomes available. Programs include:

Updated information regarding unemployment resources can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-guidance-and-directives#busin...

The WorkShare program, a tool to help employers avoid layoffs during a downturn – read more about WorkShare at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/workshare-information-for-employers

The Rapid Response program, which works closely with companies to avert layoffs and keep a skilled workforce engaged in the existing regional economy or industry; read more about how the Rapid Response Team can help businesses at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/rapid-response-layoff-aversion

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3/13/2020 /Text of CodeRED Message from 3/13/2020 5PM:

Good evening, this is Town Administrator Mitch Vieira.  It is Friday March 13, 2020 at 5 p.m. This is a Code RED Information message to update the community. As of the date and time of this message, there are no positive cases of COVID-19 in Rockport; however, it is important that we all continue to prepare in a thoughtful and calm manner for the likelihood that there will be cases in the near future.  The Town of Rockport is continuing to take steps to address the growing concern over the Coronavirus in the best interests of the public. This message is being provided on behalf of the Board of Selectmen to inform you of the proactive measures being taken to minimize exposure and spread of the virus.Effective immediately, The following Town Offices and buildings will be closed to the public until at least March 29, 2020:

Town Hall

Town Hall Annex

Rockport Public Library

Community House and Council on Aging

T-Wharf Harbormaster Office and Public Restrooms

Rockport Schools are closed through the same time period

Employees will be working normal hours at Town Offices and buildings to answer phone calls and emails and conduct business but the Town will not be allowing public access to the facilities.  Please visit the Town website for specific phone numbers.  You can also call the Town’s general directory line: 978-546-5000.

The Transfer Station will remain open normal hours but the swap shop, book barn, and office trailers will be closed to the public.

Senior Care’s Meals on Wheels meal deliveries will continue without interruption.

For your convenience, a secure drop box is available at the rear door at Town Hall for Payments and for any information or correspondence for all Town departments regardless of their location.  (open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week)

Another important note: Town Meeting has been postponed, until a date to be determined in May

Due to the ongoing concerns regarding the spread of the virus, no town offices or public safety buildings or employees will be accepting food items from the public.  We certainly appreciate the sentiment from the community for our dedicated employees and first responders but ask that you please refrain.

We anticipate that these steps and measures will be in place for a minimum of two weeks. The Board of Selectmen and I, along with our department heads, will re-assess our status in concert with other communities, the MA Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Residents are encouraged to visit the town web site (rockportma.gov) for the most up – to - date information, as well as the Town’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

On behalf of the Board of Selectmen, we thank you for your assistance and cooperation as we work together as a community to deal with this public health issue.  We wish all of you good health.

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Important Information from the School Food Service Dept. on where students can access meals during the school closure:

1)  A lunch "Pick-Up Station" in Gloucester at the:
O'Maley Middle School
312 Cherry St.
Gloucester, MA 01930
Monday-Friday from 11:00 AM-12:00 NOON.
All children ages 18 and under, regardless of their Free/Reduced/Full Pay status will receive a FREE complete nutritious bagged lunch daily. The meals are prepared under the same strict nutrition and food safety guidelines that are followed every day in our school kitchens. Meals may not be consumed at the "Pick-Up Station" limiting participants' interaction and proximity to other participants.

2) If the Gloucester location is not convenient for the family:
Families may access Project Bread's (a division of the state's Child Nutrition Program) FOODSOURCE HOTLINE by calling 1-800-645-8333
Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM-7:00 PM and Saturdays from 10:00 AM-2:00 PM.
This hotline will have the most up-to-date information on where to get free meals throughout the state during this unprecedented time.

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School Closure Message from Superintendent:

After thorough and careful consideration of the information presented during this morning’s conference call with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Commissioner of Education regarding the serious nature and rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus in Massachusetts, the Rockport Public Schools has made the difficult but prudent decision to close down our school buildings beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 for a minimum period of two weeks and will not reopen at the earliest until Monday, March 30, 2020.  In addition, no activities will be allowed at the school during the closure and employees who are able to do so will be working from home. The situation will be reviewed periodically during this timeframe to determine if the length of closure will need to be extended any further and you will be updated as appropriate.  We realize this decision has a significant impact for our community and understand the frustration and uncertainty that is created. However, we believe these steps are necessary given the current situation.  As a result of this emergency closure, the last day of school this year will now be Friday, June 19, 2020.  This new date is based on the updated guidelines issued earlier this week by the Commissioner of Education requiring school to be held up until our previously scheduled 185th student day,

The Rockport Board of Health and our school nursing staff urgently remind all parents and children that it is imperative to follow proper protocols for personal protection for prevention, as well as to lower risk of transmission of illness to others. Please remember the importance of social and personal distancing and to avoid large gatherings. We appreciate your flexibility, support and understanding as we strive to meet the needs of our entire community at this difficult time.

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The Town of Rockport has taken the following steps as of 3/12/2020 to address the Coronavirus public health issue:

Following the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency, and in an effort to limit potential issues and exposure in Rockport, effective 8:00AM on Friday, March 13, 2020 and until further notice, the following requirements and restrictions are in place:

All conferences, training, seminars and other discretionary professional meetings and gatherings that require Town employees or volunteers to attend in person outside of Rockport are cancelled/not allowed and Town employees and volunteers are prohibited from attending. 

In-Town training sessions for departments that are not considered urgent or time-sensitive are canceled. 

Use of Town Buildings (excluding schools) for rentals and non-essential events and classes is prohibited until further notice. All classes and events at the Council on Aging have been canceled; the Public Library is in the process of doing the same.  All meals through the Meals on Wheels program will continue at this time.

All Town Boards/Committees/Commissions have been directed to limit their meetings to matters that are time-sensitive only and cancel if there are no time-sensitive matters.

All departments are reviewing and updating their Town webpages to ensure that the information is current, including forms that the public can download instead of coming in to retrieve.  

Additional restrictions will be announced as they are made.  At this time, Town Offices continue to be open to the public but it is strongly advised that you consider using the information available on the Town website and the below methods for bill payments.  If you are sick, please do not come into Town Offices to avoid spreading any potential illness.

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Payment methods available (instead of coming into the Treasurer/Collector's counter):

- Secure mail drop in the back door of Town Hall – this is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.  Please be sure to put your payment and bill information in a sealed envelope.

- Mail-In Lockbox service – Included with each original bill mailed is a remittance slip and return envelope.  Simply mail your check payment in the envelope provided, with the remittance slip, to the address indicated on the remittance slip.

- Our online bill payment portal – From the Town of Rockport’s homepage, located at www.rockportma.gov, you can click on “Pay Bills” and settle your payments electronically.

- Many banks provide bill payment services to their customers.  Should you choose to use your bank’s bill pay services, please note that because the Town of Rockport is not set-up to receive those payments electronically, your bank will mail a paper check to us, on your behalf.  Please be sure to indicate the specific bill you are paying, the relevant bill/account number and to please use the following address to send the payment: Town of Rockport, PO Box 150, Rockport, MA 01966

Additional Important Information:

Town Meeting, previously scheduled for April 4, 2020, has been postponed to May.  A final date will be announced once selected.  Please note that this also affects the Town Election, which will occur on the fifth Tuesday following Town Meeting.  Please contact the Town Clerk for questions relating to the election.

The Town continues to diligently disinfect all common touch areas in public buildings and will continue to do so until further notice.  Employees are regularly disinfecting their areas, including keyboards/mouse, phones, cell phones, keys, and other devices.  Consider doing the same with your personal vehicles and devices.

The Board of Health has recommended that all individuals get a flu shot and for those eligible, a pneumonia shot.  Eligibility is determined by your healthcare provider.

The main directory number for Town Offices is 978-546-5000; you can also reach them on their direct lines which are available on their individual webpages.  The main directory line will provide you with options to select the department you wish to speak with.  Please consider calling and/or checking department webpages before coming to Town Offices.

We encourage the public to access information by visiting the DPH website for updates and additional information:

www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus

Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Symptoms of novel coronavirus include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs). 

 To prevent any virus, people are advised to take many of the same steps they do to help prevent colds and the flu, including:

- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (at least 60% alcohol) when unable to wash hands.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, & mouth.

- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue then discard.

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipe.

- Stay home when feeling sick.

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