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Coronavirus In Chicago: Mayor Lori Lightfoot To Allow 'Non-Essential' City Employees To Work From Home

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot is suspending some "non-essential" city services, allowing many city employees to work from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, although the city's public safety departments and other critical agencies like the airports will remain fully staffed.

"The City remains committed to delivering critical services to our residents throughout this difficult time. Now and in the weeks ahead, perhaps more than ever, Chicagoans will rely on us to deliver for them, to cushion the blow from this terrible disruption, and extend a hand to those most in need," the mayor said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "However, we must balance our mission of service delivery with the need to keep our workforce and the community safe and these new policies are designed to do just that."

City department heads have been instructed to allow any employees who can to work from home. The mayor's office said the city also would begin suspending "non-essential government services that cannot be performed from home by employees."

All public safety departments, including the Police Department, Fire Department, Office Emergency Management & Communications, will remain fully staffed, according to the mayor's office. Other critical services such as sanitation, water, and airport operations also will remain fully staffed and operational.

All city employees will continue to receive their normal pay and benefits, including health care, whether they are continuing to work from their office, from home, or if their job duties have been suspended.

To help city employees work from home, the Department of Assets, Information and Services also will also remain fully staffed, and is expanding telework services and training to make sure employees have the resources and services they need to do their jobs remotely.

The move to ramp down non-essential city services comes just hours after Lightfoot postponed Wednesday's City Council meeting, and announced her office was developing procedures for future meetings to take place electronically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"During these unprecedented times we cannot proceed with business as usual when the health and welfare of our residents and communities are at risk," the mayor said.

Lightfoot also said she would be taking "several emergency actions over the next few days to allow for the continuance of government before the next City Council meeting." She said those moves would increase her purchasing authority, make sure city employees are paid while on extended leave, and allow the city to spend federal funds allocated for the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city will also no longer allow anyone in City Hall except personnel for the coming weeks. The City side of the building, 121 N. LaSalle, will be closed to the public on floors that do not provide public services, open only to staff.

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