MASON CITY — Mason City’s mayor has declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Bill Schickel through proclamation is prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people on public property or public right-of-way effective at midnight this morning, and he strongly suggests private gatherings of 10 or more people on private property should be avoided. Schickel says City Hall and other municipal buildings will be closed to the public until further notice. “ The majority of our regular services will be operating and the staff will be there to answer the telephone, answer your questions. Sanitation will continue to operate. Public transit will continue to operate. All of our safety services, our emergency services will continue to operate. You can pay your utility bill, your water bill, you can pay that online, or you can drop by the drop box that’s located in front of City Hall to do that. The regular phone number at City Hall we will be answering.” Schickel says the city’s transit system will continue to operate and proper measures are being taken to make sure buses are cleaned regularly. “It’s a critical service for so many people here in Mason City, especially getting to work and for other things. The transit system is being disinfected on a regular basis and we encourage you when you use the public transit to keep in mind social distancing as well.” Schickel thanked city and healthcare workers who can’t stay home during this crisis. “A special thanks to our workers, particularly our healthcare workers and I think of our sanitation workers, our emergency workers. These are workers that can’t stay home. We’re encouraging you to stay home if you possibly can, but we understand that some workers cannot, and we owe a special debt of gratitude for our sanitation workers and all those that are sacrificing so much for all of us.” Schickel says social distancing in the community will help prevent the spread of coronavirus and that’s why he made the declaration prohibiting large gatherings. “We know that good information can save lives and bad information can be deadly, and so that’s why it’s so important that we stay in touch. It’s also true that individual decisions matter. What all of us do can make a huge difference in keeping our community and indeed keeping our state healthy. I very much appreciate all of the partners that have work so hard to get the message out, particularly about social distancing, because that can have a huge beneficial health impact on our community.” For any questions regarding City of Mason City services, you can call City Hall at 421-3600.