Government institutions on the Vineyard took unprecedented steps this week to close town halls, cancel in-person meetings, strictly limit interactions with the public and activate emergency operation plans in the quickly unfolding nationwide effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Edgartown courthouse is locked, the Registry of Deeds is shuttered, town libraries and county buildings are closed.

Early in the week all six Island towns scrambled to begin holding public meetings by teleconference, and make town halls open by appointment only.

Annual town meetings, scheduled from late March through April, have been or are in the process of being postponed.

The closures are expected to last for at least the next few weeks as the threat of the virus has transformed nearly every aspect of public life on the Island.

Due to the emergency, Gov. Charlie Baker has instituted changes on Friday to the state open meeting law, allowing towns to conduct business by video-conference, with access for the public.

Chilmark selectmen met daily this week, and formally declared a townwide state of emergency.

“It is mostly a message to say: there’s a problem, everybody pay attention,” town administrator Tim Carroll said Wednesday.

All Chilmark town employees are now working from home. No decision has been made yet about whether to postpone the annual town meeting, scheduled for April 27.

Tisbury selectmen plan to meet every week and have given town administrator Jay Grande broad authority to respond to needs in town departments. The town has indefinitely suspended all advisory meetings, closed all parks, and moved the annual town meeting from March 31 to April 30.

“The Island has always had a practice of caring for neighbors and friends, and I’ve seen it already,” selectman Melinda Loberg said. “And I think that kind of action will get us through.”

At meetings this week selectmen in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs outlined detailed emergency preparedness and continuation of service plans. Sitting in chairs with at least six feet of space between them, selectmen listened as town administrators discussed worst-case scenarios around the coronavirus.

Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty, a former Marine, is leading the mobilization effort, which includes town employees working from home. Edgartown fire chief Alex Schaeffer said he was coordinating with town health agent Matt Poole on a variety of matters, including consulting with Stop & Shop to ensure the grocery would stay open.

The Edgartown annual town meeting set for April 14 will likely be delayed, selectmen said, with a final decision due by March 30.

The town has closed its water and wastewater departments, as well as the council on aging at The Anchors. The council will provide takeout food through a service window as well as mobile delivery, according to the plan.

Oak Bluffs took nearly identical measures, closing its town hall, harbor master, highway and shellfish departments, as well as the council on aging. Meals on Wheels service will be maintained through Elder Services. The town has also closed its parks and recreation, pickleball, basketball and skate park facilities for a month.

Police chief Erik Blake said the department was exploring the possible use of hotels — either the Surfside or the Winnetu — as potential shelters for residents who have contracted the virus if needed. He said he was in contact with the hospital and that a plan is in the works to create drive-by testing so any presumptive cases could be tested outside the confines of the hospital. A similar plan was discussed by Tisbury fire chief John Schilling with his selectmen.

The West Tisbury annual town meeting set for April 14 has been postponed to May 12. One day after their Chilmark neighbors, West Tisbury selectmen also voted to declare a townwide state of emergency Wednesday.

Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison said in an email that the town hall would be closed until further notice, and would likely not open until May at the earliest.

Tribal chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais said the tribal administration building in Aquinnah is closed with staff tele-working, and the tribe has instituted a ban on meetings and gatherings. She said critical services would continue under WHO and CDC guidelines.

“Our Direct Services Team are in contact with our elders and vulnerable population to ascertain their needs and assist where we can,” Ms. Andrews-Maltais said in a text message.

Island police and fire departments are open, but public safety leaders are urging residents to only visit stations in the event of an emergency, and to use discretion when requesting services.

“We have to cut down on some of the access between officers and the public,” Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee said. “We are asking people to refrain from coming to the police station and to just call us.”

Chief Blake in Oak Bluffs said officers were taking precautions to keep the virus out of the prison and police department.

Tisbury police chief Mark Saloio and Chief Schilling said their departments were taking similar precautions, noting the importance of keeping emergency personnel healthy.

Chief Saloio also said things have been noticeably calm, with most people staying home.

“If anything, the town is extremely quiet,” Mr. Saloio said. “From what I can see in my community, people seem to be very responsible.”

The Dukes County communications center has been locked down, Sheriff Bob Ogden said, with no individuals permitted in the building except staff. The Edgartown jail has suspended programs with outside contractors or volunteers, although online learning programs will continue. Inmate visitation will be conducted via land line telephones.

The Edgartown courthouse, which includes state trial courts and the Registry of Deeds, was formally closed by the state Supreme Judicial Court Tuesday, district court clerk Liza Williamson confirmed. Only emergency court proceedings will be allowed, and pending trials and other legal matters will be continued until late April. Arraignments are being conducted by teleconference.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission office at the Olde Stone Building in Oak Bluffs is open by appointment only. Meetings are canceled through April 16.

Dukes County offices are also closed, with the county accessible by phone and email, county administrator Martina Thornton said.

Will Sennott and Aaron Wilson contributed reporting.