On the same night Dublin City Council determined canceling the Dublin Irish Festival was the best course of action, council members also heard city staff's recommendations regarding a timeline for opening city facilities and reinstating limited programming.

City staff members recommended during a special meeting May 28 that the city not hold the festival because of concern for safety, as well as economic impact to the city.

The festival traditionally draws more than 100,000 visitors from throughout the world and produces an estimated annual economic impact of $8.5 million. Dublin funds the festival through the city's hotel-motel tax fund and revenues generated by previous years' festivals.

In an email sent to festival volunteers, entertainers and vendors May 28, Alison LeRoy, director of Dublin's Division of Community Events and the Dublin Irish Festival, said: "It is with deep disappointment that the city of Dublin announces the cancellation of the 33rd annual Dublin Irish Festival set for July 31 through Aug. 2, 2020.

"The safety of our guests, volunteers, staff and participants is our top priority. The challenges of adhering to social-distancing guidelines, assuring fiscal responsibility and maintaining the highest quality entertainment experience also factored heavily into the decision."

Council members expressed support of the decision to cancel the festival and for staff recommendations concerning reopening city facilities and programming in a limited capacity while adhering to health guidelines amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

City Manager Dana McDaniel said safety is the city's top priority. He also acknowledged operating protocols for such venues as pools, gyms, restaurants and taverns are emerging and changing daily.

"Nothing is crystal clear; nothing is perfect," he said.

The city is targeting opening city buildings -- including lobbies within City Hall, the development building and the service center -- which were to be opened to the public June 1, said Megan O'Callaghan, Dublin's public-service director.

Visitors are required to wear masks, receive temperature checks and sign in upon entry. Meetings with staff members will be scheduled, and areas will feature plexiglass barriers.

The city's Justice Center has remained open throughout the pandemic, and the city was scheduled to resume mayor's-court hearings June 2, said police Chief Justin Paez.

Outdoor recreational areas, including tennis and pickleball courts; the skate park; and baseball, softball and cricket fields opened May 26 and 27, said Matt Earman, Dublin's parks and recreation-services director. Basketball courts, soccer fields (with exceptions for conditioning and training) and volleyball courts remain closed, along with playgrounds and park shelters.

The Ballantrae Community Park spray fountains also are closed for the season, Earman said. He said the city is evaluating the timing for opening park restrooms; they will require disinfecting twice daily. Drinking fountains remain inoperable.

The city is targeting Monday, June 8, to open the Dublin Community Recreation Center, contingent upon Franklin County Public Health review and approval, said Tracey Gee, the city's recreation-services administrator. Only those 16 years old and older with rec-center memberships will be permitted to enter the facility. Children within family groups, however, also would be allowed to enter, she said.

Rec-center members will be able to register for 90-minute exercise windows online, and the center will close for 30 minutes between sessions for cleaning and disinfecting, Gee said.

Masks will be recommended for patrons, who will be required to submit to temperature screenings upon entry, Gee said. Locker rooms, showers and changing rooms will remain closed, Gee said.

The recreation program traditionally has operated at 55% cost recovery, said Matt Stiffler, Dublin's finance director.

This year, based on revenue projections, the cost-recovery estimate is 15% to 25%, he said.

Whereas an Ohio Department of Health order indicated public swimming pools could reopen May 26, guidance from Franklin County Public Health issued May 20 advised against opening public pools, Gee said.

FCPH officials advised that if municipalities were to open pools, they should delay opening until at least July 1.

Therefore, Dublin officials said they are targeting a date no sooner than July 1 for opening the lap pool in the recreation center and Dublin Community Pool South, contingent upon FCPH guidance, review and approval, Gee said.

Lap swimmers would be able to register online for reservations.

Those who want to swim at the South pool would be able sign up online for 90-minute swimming blocks.

Public-health requirements and target opening and closing dates for the pools lead to a current revenue estimate of $82,600 and expenditures estimated to be $550,000, Stiffler said.

Typically, the city's pools historically have operated at 60% cost recovery. This year, the cost-recovery estimate is about 15%, he said.

Contingent upon review and approval from Dublin City Schools and Franklin County Public Health, the city is targeting June 15 for opening summer day camps in limited capacity, Gee said.

Masks will be required for children unless special accommodations are needed and children would be required to undergo temperature screenings, she said. Children will be in groups of eight with two staff members.

No swimming, field trips or physical contact would be permitted, she said.

Council members also discussed targeting June 8 for resuming in-person council meetings.

Mayor Chris Amorose Groomes asked staff to begin looking at protocols and guidelines for meeting in person.

Vice Mayor Cathy De Rosa said whereas people don't know how long the pandemic will last, taking precautions while moving forward with guidance from Franklin County Public Health is important.

"We're going to be in this for a while, collectively," she said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah