The Des Moines City Council on Monday, June 14 will hold its first in-person meeting in City Hall following a 15-month shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Council members last convened in chambers 460 days ago on March 9, 2020.
Several new protocols will be implemented with the return to in-person Council meetings as part of the City’s safety and security enhancements:
- Council meetings will start at 5 p.m. rather than 4:30 p.m.
- City Hall will close at 4 p.m. to allow for a security sweep of the building
- The building will reopen at 4:30 p.m. – the public may enter in the center doors on the east side of City Hall or through doors on the west side (an accessible entrance)
- Those attending Council meetings will pass through a security check and metal detector before proceeding to the second floor
- As a precautionary health measure, occupancy in Council chambers will be safely limited to 25 members of the public at any one time
- The Great Hall on the second floor will serve as an overflow/staging area for those addressing Council
- TV and computer monitors will provide a broadcast of the meeting for the overflow crowd
- Face coverings are not required for those vaccinated, unvaccinated visitors are strongly encouraged to wear them.
“We see in the news each week that threats can come from all directions and can be intended for anyone,” Mayor Frank Cownie said. “These new steps will help ensure the safety and well-being of visitors and staff while allowing us to accommodate the needs of our residents and provide them the access they’re entitled.”
Mayor Cownie welcomed a return to in-person Council meetings in City Hall following 15 months of Zoom network meetings during the pandemic.
“The lesson to be learned over the past year is that as a Council we should strive to better engage with our residents because few things are as valuable and productive as a face-to-face conversation or exchange of ideas,” Cownie added. “We have an obligation as a Council to do just that – and as Mayor, I’m committed to having that discussion and to respectfully listen to everyone’s ideas.”