Hanover Town Council suspended water disconnections for residents whose income might be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic at Tuesday night’s regular meeting and approved emergency pay for city employees in the event of a shutdown.

Paying bills could get harder for service industry workers and others whose work hours are affected by Gov. Eric Holcomb’s recommendations Monday that ordered bars and restaurants to stop serving dine-in customers and offer carry-out or delivery only through the end of March. Other businesses could soon follow suit as they did Tuesday in Kentucky where Gov. Andy Beshear ordered all gyms, theaters and event spaces to close.

Council member Debbie Kroger sponsored the suspension of disconnections, citing similar actions by energy companies Duke and Vectren in recent days. The action taken Tuesday will not only suspend disconnections for those unable to pay their bills through the end of April but waive fees for late payments following March 14. Customers will still owe bills but service will not be cut off.

“Just be prepared for — just like any crisis — people to take advantage of this,” city attorney Devon Sharpe said.

In the event the town does shut down completely, council members also passed a policy that would allow Clerk-Treasurer Keith Mefford to pay any outstanding bills or late fees to Hanover’s service providers.

Council members also passed an amendment to its salary ordinance allowing for “emergency stay home pay” for town employees if the council were to declare a state of emergency. Employees would be expected to work from home if possible and be on-call to report to work stations within two hours of being called. The pay also extends to employees who are sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19, according to the ordinance.

Jefferson County EMA Director Troy Morgan and County Health Officer Dr. John Hossler stopped by earlier in the evening to talk about prevention and the county’s plan to deal with the virus. Morgan reminded council members that the courthouse had been closed to public access starting Tuesday morning and that Madison City Hall was also limiting access and restricting transactions to the drive-through window on the south side of the building.

Kroger said Hanover Town Hall had begun doing that last week.

Jefferson County Commissioners also signed a declaration of public health emergency Tuesday morning, naming the Jefferson County Health Department as the lead agency on COVID-19 matters with EMA as the supporting agency, Morgan said.

“I think anything we can do now to limit that exposure and take as many of those pieces off the table now, will help us on the backside of this and make the recovery just that much easier and that much quicker,” Morgan said.

He said residents can sign up for safety text alerts by texting “Jefferson EMA” to 888-777.