Sussex County government continues to deliver services to the public, but significant modifications to day-to-day operations, including ending public access to all County facilities, suspending marriage ceremonies, and halting cash payments, are some of the exceptional steps being implemented as Delaware responds to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting populations around the world.
Effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, all County government facilities will be closed to public access until further notice. The public will be allowed strict limited entry only to the lobby of the County Administrative Offices building, located at 2 The Circle in Georgetown, during regular business hours to drop off documents to be processed by County staff. Select staff will remain at work or telecommute to continue daily operations, but in-person contact with employees in their respective offices will be prohibited.
County government is encouraging the public to do business as much as possible through electronic means, namely email and telephone. Scanned documents, such as building permit applications, requests for site inspections, deed recordings, and more, can be transmitted to offices electronically. The County has developed a COVID-19 portal to provide specific information about modified services, viewable at www.sussexcountyde.gov/coronavirus. Information for contacting County offices is available on the County’s website, at www.sussexcountyde.gov, and will be posted outside County facilities, as well.
Meantime, the Marriage Bureau has suspended performing all wedding ceremonies and issuing licenses, though certified-copy applications will be received electronically or via drop-off. And County offices will halt accepting cash as a form of payment for all services. Only credit card or check payments will be accepted. For credit card payments, all surcharges will be waived until further notice to accommodate customers inconvenienced by the temporary policy.
County offices will be staffed with a combination of employees on site, as well as others working from remote locations to limit contacts and community spread, and preserve the integrity of operations. Various steps, including social distancing and frequent facility cleanings, already have been and will continue to be employed to minimize the virus’ spread and keep staff safe.
While routine services and processes are being affected, and in some cases turnaround times for documents could be slowed, critical time-sensitive County functions such as 911, paramedic, sewer, and water services will continue around the clock and unimpeded. The County is implementing numerous additional measures to protect those critical services, including health screenings of employees at each shift change, suspending discretionary leave, and locking down facilities to only employees who work in a given department/building.
As day-to-day operations are changing, so, too, have public meetings of the County Council and other boards and commissions.
Already this week, both the County Council and Board of Adjustment held previously scheduled meetings, but public access was either limited or entirely restricted, with the proceedings only accessible online, as permitted by an emergency declaration from Delaware Gov. John C. Carney. Future meetings of those bodies, as well as the County’s Planning & Zoning Commission, remain scheduled, but are subject to change.