July 2, 2020
To All City Employees:
It’s hard to believe that we are halfway through the calendar year. The first six months of 2020 were full of unprecedented challenges, outside of the box thinking, and unfortunately, pain and heartbreak. Virtually every aspect of our lives – personally and professionally – have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. When coronavirus hit Norwalk in March, we stopped on a dime, pivoted, and completely altered how we deliver services to residents.
I am proud of the work you are all doing under these difficult circumstances. This has not been easy for anyone. That is why, despite calls from the public, I have not approached senior staff or union representatives about potential givebacks or cuts. Other communities, such as Stamford, are furloughing staff, asking for union concessions, and cutting salaries. In Norwalk, we are planning to move forward with the scheduled contractual raises.
Thank you all for your continued hard work, dedication, and perseverance during these challenging times. We miss our coworkers, we miss our daily routines, and we miss the way life was before COVID. The truth is, so much remains unknown about this virus that we must continue to take precautions. Please know the decisions I make are for the health and safety of you and your families. That is why I have asked your supervisors to carefully schedule staffing and stagger shifts. The last thing we want – and the last thing the public will accept – is a city employee getting sick, potentially infecting an entire department, and staff being quarantined for two weeks and services grinding to a halt. While some staff are reporting to City Hall, others are continuing to work remotely. Remember the expectation is that all employees – regardless of work location – will meet the responsibilities of their job functions.
You are probably aware that we are currently in Phase Two of the state and local reopening plans. We have done a great job in Connecticut to slowly bring services back online and slow the spread of COVID-19. In other parts of the country, things are not going as well, as coronavirus cases are spiking. Governor Lamont said this week that Phase Three, originally expected for late July, may be delayed. In Norwalk’s Phase Three, we had planned to reopen City Hall to the public by appointment-only, but we are watching the health conditions here and across the state and region closely before moving forward with that plan. As a reminder, our complete reopening plan can be found at norwalkct.org/reopennorwalk.
We are seeing across the country what happens when things reopen too quickly and health protocols are not followed closely. The most important thing is that continue to take this seriously in order to protect the health and safety of ourselves, our families, and the public. Please continue to be vigilant and patient as we navigate our new normal. I know it’s frustrating to be in a constant state of flux, and I appreciate the professionalism you have shown throughout this pandemic.
Keep up the great work and have a Happy Fourth of July.
Mayor Harry Rilling