News Detail

City Closing Several City Facilities, Institutes a Hiring Freeze

City Closing Several City Facilities, Institutes a Hiring Freeze

For Immediate Release

March 13, 2020

Essential services will continue, many by appointment only

PALO ALTO, CA – The City announced further citywide actions today to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community, including closing several City facilities, expanding the list of cancelled, postponed, or adjusted City events and programs, and instituting a hiring freeze effective immediately. These new actions are in response to Santa Clara County Public Health Department’s new guidance also released today.

“As a City we are working to balance continuing community services while also following the guidance issued by county and state health officials to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Essential services will continue, and many City services will be provided by online, by phone, and appointment only,” said Ed Shikada, city manager for the City of Palo Alto. “This is a fast-moving public health emergency and we will continue to respond thoughtfully with changes as necessary to keep our community safe.”

City Facility Closures

Effective, tomorrow March 14, 2020, several City Facilities will be closed, and other City facilities will have limited access offering by appointment only until further notice. Palo Alto’s libraries, the Art Center, recreation facilities such as the Mitchell Park Community Center and Teen Center, Lucie Stern Community Center, the Junior Museum and Zoo, the Children’s Theatre and Rinconada Pool are among the facilities closing as of tomorrow, March 14. The Palo Alto Animal Shelter is also closed. City related events and programs at Cubberley Community Center are suspended and tenants at Cubberley may modify or suspend their activities in accordance with the County guidance. Enhanced library online services will still be available 24/7 and curbside book holds will be available at all library locations by appointment only. Access to City Hall be by appointment only starting Monday, March 16. Open Space Preserves and parks will also remain open at this time with enhanced cleaning at playgrounds. Posted signage at each City facility with high public uses will be available with phone numbers to reach City staff with questions.

More Cancelled, Postponed and Adjusted Meetings and Programs

This unprecedented decision was made following a mandatory legal order issued this morning by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department prohibiting the gathering of more than 100 persons. The Order also bans gatherings of 35 to 100 people unless specific conditions are met such as ensuring no one that is sick is in attendance, providing adequate supplies for proper hand washing and social distancing is enforced. If social distancing cannot be accommodated there could be a need to ban smaller events/gatherings of people 35-50. The City’s website listing all cancelled, postponed or adjusted events and programs, will be updated by Monday, March 16 extending its current list of over 30 events to more events and programs through Thursday, April 30 and is available here. This list is subject to change at any time.

On Thursday, Shikada announced Palo Alto issued a proclamation of emergency as an important step to enable flexibility in how Palo Alto can respond to this changing public health situation. Such a move helps ensure the City’s public safety and emergency services personnel secure vital supplies, funding, and assistance. The City also announced several service changes on Thursday that continue to be modified as needed in this very fluid situation. For a full list of service changes, go here.

Changes to the City Council Meetings and Other Boards and Commission Meetings

The City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, March 16 will proceed with the following modifications in place: the public is encouraged to submit comments via email to and to watch the live broadcast of the meeting here or on TV Channels 26 or 29 as the preferred way to share your input to the City Council. If you must attend, community members are asked to follow meeting etiquette and social distancing that includes sitting six feet away from others, not shaking hands and other efforts. The public will be asked to assemble in the Community Room at City Hall, or outside on King Plaza. Members of the public who wish to address the City Council will be called to do so at the appropriate time. Similar approaches will be implemented for all Boards and Commissions meetings. Other teleconferencing options are being evaluated and implemented, as needed.

Informing the Community on the Latest Local Developments

The leading agency focused on public health and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak is the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department. As of Friday, March 13, there are 79 confirmed coronavirus cases in Santa Clara County and they are anticipating more cases. Santa Clara County Public Health Department guidance seeks to limit the community spread of COVID-19 and includes guidance for employers and the public to keep our community’s safe. 

Both Santa Clara County and San Mateo County are using 211 as a "call center" for persons with questions about COVID-19. Community members can also text "coronavirus" to 211211 for information and updates. There is also a public information phone number to gain updates by calling (408) 885-3980.

In addition, the City has set up a dedicated webpage and other communications efforts, including placing posters at high use public facilities and printed materials to help inform and provide tools to help keep our community safe. For more on recent coronavirus updates and other online resources, go to the City’s dedicated webpage on this issue at  

Meghan Horrigan-Taylor
Chief Communications Officer
City Manager's Office

Last Updated: March 13, 2020