Hennepin County and local city governments are taking precautions and adhering to the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health with regards to the coronavirus and COVID-19 outbreak. In doing so, the county has declared a local emergency and cities have closed their door to the public, while continuing to offer most city services.
Hennepin County declared a continued local emergency at their special board meeting on March, 17. The declaration allows the county to put its disaster plan into place as well as provide emergency aid, according to a news release from the county. It also authorizes up to $2.5 million to purchase all necessary goods, material, supplies, equipment and contracted services as part of the county’s response.
Another $3 million was authorized to provide quarantine and isolation spaces for those who cannot provide a space on their own. Within the declaration, all libraries, human services centers and licensing service centers will be closed through April 6.
Hennepin County Library locations in Long Lake, Maple Plain, St. Bonifacius and Mound are closed until April 6. Meeting rooms and events are canceled through April 30. During this time due dates for physical materials are extended, no new fines will occur and holds will be there until at least April 15. Visit https://www.hclib.org/ for updates.
Locally, cities are closing public access to city halls and adjusting meetings to adhere to the recommendations.
The City of Long Lake closed public access to city hall. Staff are continuing to work in city buildings and are available by phone or email. Council meetings will be conducted electronically. Residents can tune in to the meetings by requesting access from City Administrator Scott Weske at email@example.com. Utility bills can be paid online at longlakemn.gov. Permit applications, bill payments or other documents can be mailed to city hall.
The City of Maple Plain has not canceled or rescheduled any city meetings. According to Mayor Julie Maas-Kusske, city hall hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The window is closed to walk-ins, but phones are being answered and services are being provided. Residents are still able to go inside city hall where social distancing is expected.
“We ask that if people are sick, showing symptoms, have traveled or been around someone who is sick, they do not attend,” she said. Meetings are continuing to be recorded and posted on the city’s YouTube page.
Locally, residents are looking out for one another. Maas-Kusske adds if someone is in need of food, running an errand or assistance, reach out to Christ Lutheran Church, Maple Plain Community Church and city hall. All residents are encouraged to stay informed by signing up to receive Code Red notifications. To sign up visit Maple Plain’s website or contact city hall at (763) 479-0515.
On Friday, March 20, the mayor of Minnetonka Beach, Jaci Lindstrom, released a video message regarding COVID-19. In the update, Lindstrom said the city is following all recommendations and limiting social interactions. City hall and the post office remain open; however, Lindstrom asked the community to use email and phone as contact methods. A document drop box is set up on the steps of city hall. City council is social distancing by conducting city business by teleconference.
“If you know of a resident in need, contact city hall. We have city volunteers lined up to help,” she said.
Visit the city’s website to view agenda and directions on how to listen to city council meetings. https://www.ci.minnetonka-beach.mn.us/
The City of Minnetrista closed city hall for walk-up business. City staff are available via voicemail or email. Voicemail messages left at (952) 446-1660 will be checked Monday-Friday 8 am-4:30 pm.The Minnetrista Police Department is not accepting forms, applications and paperwork in person. Submissions can be made via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax at (952) 446-1623.
The City of Mound closed their city hall to the public and are continuing to provide city services. Drop-off and pick-up stations for items are available at the front of the vestibule area. To make payments, use the drop-box or call 952-472-0603 to make payments. Mayor Ray Salazar said police and fire department will continue to serve as usual while slightly altering their operations to address the health recommendations and guidelines. Public works and administrative staff are available by phone or email. Salazar also encourages residents to subscribe to the city’s notifications tools on their webpage. Going forward, city council meetings are not open to the public; however, instructions on how to view or listen to the meeting will be communicated by city officials.
The City of Orono closed city hall to all public visitors with exceptions to police, building inspections and public works functions on March 20 until further notice. City hall remains full staffed and employees are there to answer questions over the phone or via email, which is the preferred method of contact. A drop-off area was established at the front entrance of city hall. Those looking to submit permitting or licensing materials should be electronically submitted. The city is also looking into alternative ways to conduct public meetings remotely in an “transparent manner.”
The City of Spring Park closed city hall to the public through at least Friday, April 3. Public works, police and fire will continue to operate as normal. City staff are working remotely and available for questions. Questions can be sent via email or by calling their main phone number at (952) 471-9051 during regular business hours. Council meetings may be rescheduled as developments occur.