The Columbus City Council held its first virtual City Council meeting via Zoom on May 26.
The meeting was held over Zoom, instead of the call-in telephonic council meeting format that council members and city staff have been using since the start of the pandemic.
City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko gave an update to the meetings being over Zoom, saying that they are now able to have people in-person and over Zoom under the guidance of Gov. Tim Walz and the CDC.
Going forward, the city will use the Zoom format paired with in-person meetings as a hybrid model to accommodate those who are still not yet comfortable with in-person meetings. While this hybrid model will not last forever, the city looks to continue it for the time being.
The council also held a brief discussion regarding the requirement of face masks while inside City Hall.
Council member Janet Hegland asked if the city is allowed to require people to wear a mask on their property, and city attorney Bill Griffith confirmed that they can require it.
“I would feel comfortable leaving it up to the honor system that they don’t have to wear a mask if they’re vaccinated,” council member Sue Wagamon said. “I know we can’t ask, but we’re all responsible adults.”
The council inevitably decided that the best course of action is to require those who have not been vaccinated to wear a mask while those who have been are not required to.
“The thing is, I think you have to do it based on what the most current thing is,” council member Shelly Logren said. “If we have to go back to it, then we have to go back to it, but right now, I feel comfortable with the situation as it is without masks.”
The city will not demand proof of vaccination for those who enter City Hall without a mask. They will instead go by an honor system and ask residents to be respectful of it.
Mayor Jesse Preiner gave an update from the fire board meeting that he attended.
Forest Lake Fire Chief Al Newman stated that the department is currently looking for more firefighters.
The city is also expected to get its new fire truck in the first week of June, following its inspection, according to Preiner.
The next council meeting will be held in person and over Zoom on Wednesday, June 9.