The Saint Paul City Council on January 5 conducted in-person meetings at City Hall for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. The in-person meetings are being held after extensive ventilation improvements were made in the building. Masks are required for everyone, and social distancing is adhered to.

The council has asked city staff to make reports in person unless they cannot do so otherwise. The public can testify before a hearing in writing or via voicemail, call in with testimony or attend a hearing in person.

Mayor Melvin Carter, whose reinstatement of an indoor mask mandate for city-licensed business was approved by the council on January 5, sent council members a letter questioning the return to in-person meetings. Council member Mitra Jalali took to social media to raise her objections to in-person meetings, but she attended the meeting nonetheless.

The council has changed the seating configuration in the chambers to provide social distancing and eliminated the usual end of meeting “news from the wards” comments. Council members said if pandemic conditions worsen, they can go back to virtual meetings.

Council offices also reopened to the public during the week of January 3.

— Jane McClure

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