All will offer public services online and by phone

With the omicron variant raging everywhere, several East Bay towns are closing their government offices to the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The towns of Martinez, Brentwood, San Pablo, Pleasant Hill, Newark and Clayton have all closed, leaving minimal staff for at least the next week. Hayward closes its doors on Fridays until the end of this month.

All of these cities are still offering online services while they are closed, making staff available by phone and email. Residents can request in-person appointments, which some cities said they would consider approving, but walk-in visits are over for now.

In Clayton, where the city council may soon approve $10,000 “hero pay” bonuses for almost all city employees, Laura Hoffmeister, assistant city manager, said everyone would still come to work but not would not engage with the public in person.

“After two years, I’m rolling with this,” said Hoffmeister, who is also the vice mayor of neighboring Concord, which remains open. “We’ve seen these surges before, and then things come back down.”

Hoffmeister said the City of Clayton offices are well equipped for healthy practices and the vaccination rate among employees is very high.

Still, the virus has crept into workplaces as cases soar across the country. After identifying multiple cases of COVID-19 at every facility in the City of Brentwood, City Manager Tim Ogden issued an emergency order to close them all to the public. The city employs over 350 people.

“I’m concerned about staff capacity in a few critical departments where we may not have a qualified person to fill in,” Ogden said in an email, adding that he couldn’t say what those departments are because this could compromise employee confidentiality. who tested positive.

At least a few cities that closed offices this week have required employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including Clayton and Pleasant Hill. But most maintain at least some level of staffing in their offices.

In the case of Hayward, spokesman Chuck Finne said the city must remain open four days a week to continue providing full services to the public.

Finne said that although some employees have contracted COVID-19, the city is “maintaining skeletal levels of staff physically present at City Hall.”

Some Bay Area public school districts are closing some schools and moving away because so many teachers and students have caught the virus. West Contra Costa Unified announced this week that it would close its 54 campuses until Monday, and Milpitas Unified said Friday it would do the same until mid-January.

Walnut Creek and Concord, two of the largest cities in Contra Costa County, do not currently plan to close offices, but spokespersons for both governments said officials are monitoring the rise of omicron.