Only business critical council meetings will take place at Thanet District Council as it puts in place measures to limit levels of interaction due to the coronavirus.
The aim is to keep the authority running but meetings will be substituted with phone calls or video calls and those who can work from home are doing so.
A spokesperson said: “In line with the latest advice, we are minimising the levels of interaction we have with colleagues, business partners and customers by advising against all but essential travel and substituting meetings for telephone or video calls. If people are in a role that means they are able to work from home, they are being encouraged to do so.
“Yesterday it was announced that the council will not be holding formal meetings unless there is business critical content. In essence this means that the Planning Committee, Licensing Board and Licensing Sub-Committees will continue, whilst all other meetings will be cancelled for the time being. This situation will be reviewed once impending legislation is laid before parliament covering Councillors being able to attend meetings and vote virtually.
“We are regularly sharing the latest government and NHS advice with both staff and residents using a variety of channels (website, Facebook, Twitter and e-newsletters to residents and community groups). Discussions with staff members who fall into a ‘high risk’ category have taken place and there are posters around all of our buildings encouraging thorough hand-washing.
“We have an internal officer group who speak on a daily basis and are linked in with the Kent Resilience Forum to understand the situation more widely across Kent. Robust plans are already in place which set out how council services will operate in the event of disruptions to normal business.”
Find information at thanet.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19
Kent County Council is also suspending face to face meetings. In a letter to members the authority said: “Following recent government briefings and discussions with the Leader and leaders of opposition groups, the decision has been taken to cancel the County Council meeting this Thursday. These are clearly unprecedented times and the County Council has a key operational role in supporting vulnerable members of our communities.
“We have also reluctantly decided to suspend all other committee meetings until further notice.
“We are advised that the Government is proposing legislation that will allow us to conduct meetings virtually and without the need for Members to be physically present. Once we have sight of the legislation, we will be working hard to design governance and technical solutions to allow us to get up and running with these meetings as soon as possible.
“Whilst the cancellation of meetings is always disappointing, this step provides an opportunity for Members to concentrate on their community leadership role as set out in our business continuity plans. It also frees staff up to concentrate on the future arrangements so that we can hold meetings again as soon as possible.”
Councillor surgeries are also cancelled but members can be contacted by email or telephone.
For county councillor Barry Lewis (Margate) the email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Constantine (Ramsgate) email@example.com
Paul Messenger (Ramsgate) firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosalind Binks (Broadstairs) email@example.com
Emma Dawson (Birchington and Rural) firstname.lastname@example.org
Lesley Game (Cliftonville) email@example.com
Liz Hurst (Birchington and Rural) firstname.lastname@example.org