FREMANTLE council has closed its leisure centre immediately and a number of its other services will be closed or scaled back on Monday.
The council announced the closures late Thursday over concerns about the spread of Coronavirus.
The Walyalup Aboriginal Culture Centre, Wanjoo Lounge over-55s drop-in shop and the Freo Toy Library closed Friday.
As of Monday the council will also close the galleries, shop and reception at the Fremantle Arts Centre, the Samson Recreation Centre, The Meeting Place, the Moores Building Gallery, and its Visitors Centre.
“While Fremantle Arts Centre will be closed to the general public as of Monday, the grounds will remain open for the public to enjoy and Canvas Cafe will remain open until further notice,” the council said.
It said staff are exploring other ways to offer services; the art centre’s Revealed exhibition, featuring emerging WA Indigenous artists, will be available via virtual reality.
The arts centre was also exploring opportunity to assist the artistic community, with works available for sale online.
The council’s arts and culture manager manager Kathryn Taylor told the Herald that Coronavirus had been “devastating” to the sector with the cancellation of performance, employment and exhibition opportunities.
“Artists and musicians are generally freelance or self-employed and often are casual employees in other industries which are hard hit,” she said.
“We know the devastating impact of Covid-19 will be felt for a long time.
“We’re exploring ways we might be able to assist the sector by offering programing and sales opportunities.”
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the council would be trying to help businesses tap into federal and state stimulus packages through its small business capacity building program.
“While our primary focus at the moment is responding to the rapidly updating advice from health authorities in order to slow the spread of the disease and protect vulnerable people in our community, we are also looking ahead to the recovery phase,” Dr Pettitt said.
“It is essential that we are ready, as the crisis passes, to get people back into Fremantle and help Fremantle businesses to get back on their feet.
“There are still some testing times ahead, but at some point this will come to an end and we’ll all be able to get on with our lives.
“In the meantime, if everybody stays calm, looks after their neighbours and listens to the advice of the experts we’ll all get through this together.”
On Wednesday the council launched a Neighbour to Neighbour program, which encourages residents to volunteer to help vulnerable people. Links are available on the council’s homepage.
by STEVE GRANT