Citing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau has paused its advertising program and moved unspent funding from this year into the next fiscal year’s budget, which begins July 1.
The bureau’s board of directors approved the move at an emergency teleconference meeting Monday. Later in the day, the Thomas Jefferson Health District announced 11 local confirmed novel coronavirus cases, an increase of one from Sunday’s official count.
The bureau also will keep a contingency of at least $100,000 going into fiscal year 2022, which begins July 2021.
“The purpose for that is that our budget is based on the lodging tax collection two years prior, so this crisis now will impact our budget two years from now,” said Executive Director Courtney Cacatian.
A proposed item that would have allowed Cacatian to draft a public message about the importance of tourism was moved to the board’s next meeting.
Charlottesville city officials also closed basketball and tennis courts on Monday to go along with playgrounds. Meadowbrook Golf Course and the McIntire Park Skate Park also are closed.
The Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services offices also are now fully closed to the public. City staff will continue to process applications already submitted and will send notices to applicants by email or phone.
Some modified inspections will continue but no new development review applications will be accepted, officials said.
Applications and fees for building, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire permits may be submitted through the U.S. Postal Service. Forms are available online for those permits.
Anyone with questions regarding the procedures may call the office during business hours at (434) 970-3182.
City residents seeking an annual trash decal will need to fill out an online application and mail the application and payment to P.O., Box 2854, Charlottesville, VA 22902 or drop the payment and application into boxes located between the Charlottesville City Hall Annex and the Key Recreation Center and in Sixth Street alley by City Hall.
A decal will be mailed.
Also, the city has suspended large item trash collection.
City utility employees on Monday began using personal protective gear and practicing social distancing when servicing customers, officials announced.
“The field technician will request that everyone follow [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] best practices for appropriate social distancing,” officials said in a release. “These measures are not meant to alarm anyone, but are intended as extra precautions to protect the community as well as utilities personnel.”
In the statement, officials said callers to the utilities office who are scheduling service appointments will be asked general health questions.
“They can expect brief preliminary questions regarding their current health and potential exposure to the virus,” the statement reads.
The State Corporation Commission on Monday certified those utility workers and anyone working in the electric, gas, water and sewer industries as critical employees and the industries as critical to the state.
The declaration makes those industries a priority for receiving resources that will prevent service interruptions. It also directs the industries to take additional steps for employee safety.
UVa parking, buses
University of Virginia officials on Monday lifted parking restrictions at parking meters and lots on Grounds in hopes of improving employee access to workplaces. Restrictions are still in place at the UVa Health parking garages, Scott Stadium, Fontaine Research Park, McCormick Road and the Lawn alleyways.
Also on Monday, UVa expanded commuter parking around Scott Stadium to provide parking closer to Grounds and the Medical Center. Blue, Red and Emmet/Ivy Garage permits will be honored in the expanded parking area, which will be served by a “Redline Special” commuter bus line running from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. The normal red and blue bus service lines will shut down.
The changes are in place until April 3, but could be expanded.
“This expansion of Scott Stadium parking and consolidation of the Redline and Blueline will allow us to reduce the number of passengers per trip,” officials said on the UVa parking website. “Bus passengers are now instructed to enter and exit through the rear doors only. Front-door access will be permitted only for passengers needing the boarding ramp or operator assistance to access the bus.”
According to the website, there will be two bus stops in the parking area but Redline bus stops on Stadium Road and on Alderman Road will not be served.