SALISBURY — A degree of normalcy in a time of quarantine and social distancing returned to Town Hall when selectmen met for the first time since the building was closed to the public last week.

After Town Manager Neil Harrington closed Town Hall amid concerns about the COVID-19 virus early last week, he worked with Salisbury Community TV and Media Center to put together a system in which town board members could meet either in small groups, through videoconferencing or a combination of the two.

Monday night marked the first time the new system was used when four of the five selectmen met along with Harrington in the Colchester Room at Town Hall. Selectman Donna Abdulla recently returned from a trip overseas and attended the meeting through videoconferencing.

Although the board unanimously voted to purchase land at 41 Jak-Len Drive for $40,000 to install a water pump for the upcoming Lafayette Road sewer project and lay water pipe to extend sewer service on CCC Road, selectmen had a light agenda Monday night.

But it was the relative return to normalcy the simple public meeting provided that Selectman Freeman Condon took advantage of to quote Thomas Paine's "The Crisis."

"These are the times that try men's souls," Condon said. "Those words are apt today."

Condon reminded residents that Paine also said, "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

"This is not a time to panic nor to be despondent," Condon said. "This is a time to be cautious and to be prudent. This is a time to keep an eye on your neighbors. This is a time to have faith in Salisbury's emergency response teams. The men and women of the Salisbury Police Department, the Salisbury Fire Department, Salisbury's DPW, Salisbury's Emergency Management Department and Salisbury's Health Department are competent, caring and courageous. Most of all, they are extremely well-trained."

Condon thanked Salisbury Elementary School Principal James Montanari and Triton Regional School District Superintendent Brian Forget for the work they have done to put together a grab-and-go free lunch and breakfast program.

"Folks, we have been through blizzards, hurricanes, king tides, devastating fires and more," Condon said. "We will get through this. Please join me in helping whenever and whomever possible. Please join me in standing Salisbury strong."

Harrington took advantage of the public meeting to remind beach area takeout restaurants that the town is asking them to make sure all customers are standing at least six feet apart when waiting in line.

“Please cooperate with the town to do this,” he said. "We don't want to have to be in the position to close someone because there was a danger of too many people standing in line close together, which is what I understand happened this past weekend."

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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