CLAY COUNTY — In cities across the Northland, warming centers for those needing a place to get out of the extreme cold are limited, in part, due to COVID-19 restrictions in place for social distancing.
The Salvation Army is opening the doors to seven of its corps community centers to serve as warming centers for people to get out of the cold over the next several days.
The Northland location at 5306 N. Oak Trafficway will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays when the wind chill is projected to be 20 degrees or colder.
The site provides a bag containing water, light snacks and cold weather safety information. There will not be communal food or beverages made available in light of the pandemic.
“We know people need a warm place to stay in during the day with these extremely cold temperatures, and we wanted to take steps to provide those locations while also maintaining as much of a safe space as possible,” Major David Harvey said.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, space within each center will be limited to 50% of posted capacity, furniture is spaced 6 feet apart to also aid physical distancing. Anyone entering is also required to wear a mask and answer COVID-19 health screening questions. Additionally, the spaces will be cleaned and sanitized every two hours during the posted times.
To learn more, call 452-5663.
In Kearney, as was the also the case before the pandemic, those who need to get out of the cold can go to the Kearney Fire and Rescue Protection District headquarters, 201 E. Sixth St.
“We can get them in and take them to the basement and give them a place to go and see if there is somewhere else we can take them for a longer time if they need it,” said Kearney Fire Chief Kevin Pratt.
Before the pandemic, Kearney City Hall at 100 E. Washington St. was available during work hours during the day. However, with limited public access now, Kearney City Administrator Jim Eldridge said people will be allowed in the City Hall vestibule or basement, but they should call ahead to make sure the doors have been unlocked. City Hall can be reached between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays, at 628-4142.
In Liberty, the Liberty Community Center, 1600 S. Withers Road, serves as a warming station. Space is limited however due to the pandemic. Those who enter must also wear a masks.
“As of Friday, I had not heard of anyone seeking refuge at the center, but it is available during normal business hours,” said Sara Cooke, assistant city administrator and strategic communications officer.
For details, call 439-4360.
Prior to the pandemic, people could go to Smithville City Hall or the Mid-Continent Public Library branch during weekdays if needed for warmth. However, City Hall is currently under renovation and closed to the public. Due to the pandemic, the MCPL branch interior is also closed to the public.
No other warming center details for Smithville have been reported.