BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN After much discussion and debate, the Delano City Council could not come to an agreement on a plan to adopt a resolution and send it to Gov. Tim Walz requesting that he allow more businesses to open as soon as possible.
Mayor Dale Graunke broached the topic amidst a broader conversation about dealing with COVID-19 at the community level.
Graunke noted that several other area cities have passed such resolutions and said that doing so would show support for local residents and businesses.
Councilwoman Betsy Moran opposed the idea.
“I think the governor is well aware that businesses need to reopen,” Moran said. “That’s completely obvious. We don’t have any consultation with any epidemiologists or experts of any kind. He does. I don’t see that it’s up to us to weigh in.”
She suggested that residents should contact their state legislators regarding the matter.
“Citizens elected us into office and are looking to us for support because we maybe have more say than they do as individuals,” Graunke said.
Councilman Jason Franzen agreed with that sentiment.
“As elected officials, we are, in part, to represent people who can’t represent themselves,” Franzen said. He went on to say that state legislators have told him that local officials have great impact as representatives of their residents.
Councilwoman Holly Schrupp did not support sending a resolution to the governor.
“I think the governor will do what he needs to do when he needs to do it,” Schrupp said. “He has experts telling him what needs to happen . . . In due time, everything will take care of itself.”
Councilman Jon Sutherland said he liked the idea of sending a resolution to the governor stating support for opening up whatever possible.
He made a motion to draft a resolution expressing support to the governor for his actions and encouraging him to address the effects of his actions on small businesses and allow them to open at the earliest opportunity.
Graunke seconded the motion and was the only other aye vote.
Franzen said he did not like the specific language that Sutherland’s motion used.
“I’ll offer an alternative motion to direct [City Administrator] Phil [Kern] to look to other communities for a variation or range of similar actions and bring to the council,” Franzen said.
His motion died for lack of a second.
However the council did find agreement on a COVID-19 preparedness plan.
The purpose of the plan was to allow for city hall to be opened, which took place Wednesday.
The facility reopened with a number of stipulations laid out in the plan and alterations, such as the installation of glass shields at customer-service counters.
All employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are required to notify their immediate supervisor and self-isolate at home and are strongly encouraged to contact their health care provider. If an employee begins experiencing symptoms while working, they must notify their supervisor immediately, refrain from touching anything unnecessary, and be isolated until they can be safely sent home. If an employee is believed to have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, they will be notified of the exposure and be required to be quarantined for the required amount of time, during which they will have the option to work from home.
City employees will be provided with masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. It is recommended for employees and visitors to wear facemasks while inside city hall when less than 6 feet apart or while in community areas of the facility. Employees will not be required to wear masks at their individual desks or work stations unless they choose to do so or are less than 6 feet from another individual.
All visitors will be required to use hand sanitizer, which is located at both entrances and all customer service counters.
If, at any time, an employee working directly with the public feels their health may be at risk, they can request the customer to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or more and/or wear a protective mask or gloves. If the customer refuses to comply, all employees have the right to refuse service, but must explain the reason and offer further assistance via phone or email.
Visitors will be required to follow a pre-determined traffic flow to ensure that a minimum distance of 6 feet is kept between people at all times, utilizing stanchions, signage, and tape on the floor to demonstrate the appropriate distance between people. Visitors needing to complete motor vehicle transactions are required to enter the parking lot side of the building, while the Bridge Avenue entrance will be used for city office transactions.
Only one motor vehicle service counter will be open at a time, with the second counter used to process dealer work and transactions dropped off in the dropboxes.
Housekeeping efforts will also be increased.
The council directed city staff to change the signage at playgrounds.
Signs had been used to strongly discourage the use of playgrounds because city staff cannot clean them between uses.
Now, signs will not discourage use but acknowledge that playgrounds, benches, and picnic tables cannot be cleaned regularly by city staff. Signs will also encourage individuals to sanitize surfaces before use and follow all Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
“The governor and state modified language recently and encouraged people to be mindful of social distancing and hygiene, but encouraged playgrounds as a means to get outside and enjoy the outdoors,” Kern said.
He also noted that there are talks of allowing limited use of the Delano Splashpad. That topic will return to the council for action at a later date.