SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The city of Springfield announced Monday that most programs at senior centers and libraries will be suspended, effective immediately due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Senior centers will remain open for lunches and the SCSEP Program (Senior Aide), S.H.I.N.E., and Senior Outreach Division will continue to operate but by appointment only. All other programs will be suspended for the month.

Springfield libraries will continue to offer pickup services for patrons. All library branches will work the same hours of 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the exception of Pine Point operating Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. All branches except Pine Point and Brightwood will also be open on Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Central library will be open Monday to Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m. Residents may enter libraries to pick up their materials but all programming will be suspended, including computer access.

“It’s a balancing act. Public health and trying to keep the economy going. These are temporary moves right now. I’m also continuing to push for another regional testing center to take the pressure off the Eastfield Mall site,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to conduct city related business online if possible, or call the specific city department to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins at city departments will still be welcomed.

Mayor Sarno’s office says these changed will remain in effect all of January. On January 31st, the Mayor, HHS Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and cabinet heads will meet to evaluate and determine if the suspensions should be extended or lifted.

“Due to the significant increase in COVID-19 cases and out of an abundance of caution, Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris has notified me that our senior centers and public libraries will be switching to hybrid operations. Our senior centers will continue to offer lunches for our seniors and our neighborhood library branches will be offering pickup services. Additionally, we are respectfully asking residents and businesses to temporarily conduct their city related business remotely online, if possible, or to call the city department to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins will still be welcomed and accepted, however due to the increase in cases we want to encourage constituents to seek these alternative means to conduct their city related business out of an abundance of caution and to preserve and protect our workforce so that we can continue to provide much-needed and vital services for our residents and business community,” said Sarno.

HHS Commissioner Caulton-Harris stated, “As we continue to see an alarming increase in cases we need to adjust how we conduct business, similar to what we had done previously to protect our workforce and our residents. Our neighborhood library branches will continue to offer pickup services and our senior citizens will still be able to have lunch but all programing will be suspended until January 28th. We will reconvene on Monday, January 31st to review and assess the data to determine our next course of action moving forward.”

On Monday, an indoor mask mandate for all public businesses in Springfield went into effect. The city continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases, with most of the recent infections in the younger population. In the week of December 26, the city saw 2,328 cases with 52 percent of them being people under the age of 30.