The Cloquet City Council voted Tuesday, March 17 to close its buildings to the public indefinitely beginning Wednesday, March 18 to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
The order includes Cloquet City Hall, the Cloquet Public Library and Cloquet Senior Center, among other public buildings.
“We anticipate no interruption in the delivery of core services for public safety and public works, including law enforcement along with safe drinking water, sanitary sewer operation and infrastructure maintenance,” a statement from the city said.
City Council meetings will continue to remain open to the public, but people are encouraged to stream the meetings live on the city’s website, cloquetmn.gov. All city council meetings are also available to view after they are completed at the website, as well.
Staff at City Hall will continue working in the building, but the public is encouraged to check the website for a full staff directory. Those with general inquiries may also call the central phone line at 218-879-3347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cloquet Police Department will continue patrolling and responding to emergency and 911 calls for service, but lower level offenses will be handled by telephone. Non-emergency calls will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Residents should call 218-879-1247 to schedule a time to stop by for permits to purchase firearms, ATV licenses and copies of reports.
Library staff will continue working, and patrons may request materials by calling 218-879-1531 or emailing email@example.com. Items will be checked out to individuals and placed in the lobby for pick up within one hour. Patrons are asked to return borrowed items to the outdoor book drop. Overdue and lost fines are waived until further notice.
The Public Works Department is suspending scheduled site visits, but will continue to respond to emergency situations like sewer backups and water leaks.
The Finance Department will continue processing all payments and utility payments can be made by mail, phone, at the city’s website or left at a dropbox. Dropboxes are located in the parking lot entry of City Hall or on the U.S. Bank frontage road. Utility disconnection notices will still be mailed to affected customers, but service disconnections and penalties will be suspended during the period when public buildings are closed.
City implements COVID-19-related leave policies
The council also voted to implement paid sick and administrative leave policies during the continuing COVID-19 crisis.
In the event a city employee or a family member tests positive for COVID-19 or needs to be self-quarantined, the employee may be eligible to receive paid sick leave and not have it counted against their current sick bank.
“What we are really getting at is we don’t want people to make the choice of whether or not they are coming to work based on their sick leave balance, based on their employment or based on money,” City Administrator Tim Peterson said. “We want people to first and foremost to get healthy and the second thing is not to bring any of that illness to work and pass that along to others."
In the event the city determines isolation or self-quarantine is necessary, non-essential personnel could be placed on paid administrative leave. Non-essential personnel includes most city employees except law enforcement and certain public works employees.
While on administrative leave, employees are required to be available during the regularly scheduled work day from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday with a one-hour notice to perform normally scheduled duties.
Both policies are temporary and will remain in effect until the COVID-19 outbreak is no longer perceived as a threat to the general public.
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