Eight months after the city of Cloquet first closed buildings to the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the City Council unanimously voted to close its properties again amid a surge of cases in Carlton County.
The indefinite closure includes Cloquet City Hall, the Cloquet Public Library and Cloquet Senior Center, among other public buildings.
City administrator Tim Peterson said 34 members of the city’s staff have missed time since buildings reopened in May because of potential exposures to the virus.
“With that many people being out, it is becoming more and more difficult to just run things on a day-to-day basis,” Peterson said.
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Several members of the council said they supported the action and had received questions about the status of city buildings.
“I had some limited contact from residents as well about this issue, once it was noted that it was on the agenda and they were in support of it happening,” at-large councilor Lara Wilkinson said. “I think there's a lot of people who are waiting to see if the governor will close some of the more suspect types of situations off with bars and restaurants ... I think closing City Hall is pretty much a no-brainer, given the spread we have right now.”
Buildings will begin closing on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 18-19.
City Council and other public meetings will continue on a virtual basis and can be streamed like on the city’s website, cloquetmn.gov. All city council meetings are also available to view on the website after they are completed, as well.
Staff at City Hall will continue to work 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 email@example.com.
The Cloquet Police Department will continue to patrol and respond 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 to purchase permits for firearms, ATV licenses and copies of reports.
Library staff will offer curbside pickup of requested materials in the lobby, as well as kids and adults take-and-make kits and its personal librarian service. Patrons may request materials by calling 218-879-1531 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 will continue with most typical maintenance and operations tasks, including snow removal. Scheduled site visits are suspended, but the department 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 drop box. Drop boxes 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.