Local government entities including the City of Two Harbors, the City of Silver Bay and Lake County have made some operational changes in light of the COVID-19 situation. Here's what residents can expect:
Effective Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27, Two Harbors City Hall, the Two Harbors Public Library, Police Department, Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants, Public Works and Utilities Facilities will be closed to the public, according to a news release sent Tuesday, March 17.
City staff will still report to work and respond to calls for service on a limited basis during normal business hours. They will conduct regular business over the phone and email, and payments can continue to be dropped at the city drop box or be made through the city’s online and telephone payment system. The Two Harbors Municipal Liquor Store will remain open at this time.
Effective March 18 through May 1, all non-essential city committee and commission meetings are canceled, including scheduled public hearings and open houses. During that same time period, all scheduled events at the Two Harbors Community Center are canceled, and the community center will be closed to the public.
"These policies will remain in effect until we receive further guidance or there is no longer an ongoing risk to public health, safety and welfare," the news release said.
The city will also post updates at twoharborsmn.gov and through the Two Harbors Facebook page.
Mayor Scott Johnson asked the City Council to approve a motion to allow department heads, the city administrator and mayor to work together to make decisions on behalf of the council until the crisis subsides.
"Since it’s a fluid situation, I would like our department heads to have the flexibility to adjust as things happen and not have to call special council meetings every three days," Johnson said.
The motion was approved unanimously.
As of Monday, March 16, Johnson said no buildings in Silver Bay have been closed and there haven't been any discussions of closure. However, as of Tuesday, March 17, the bar side of the Silver Bay Municipal Liquor store has been closed to comply with Gov. Tim Walz's order to close dine-in restaurants and bars until March 27. The liquor store section of the building will remain open with normal hours.
"We’ll take the precautions and our employees will take the precautions when necessary," Johnson said. "We will take steps to do what we have to do."
Three hearings scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 24 have been postponed, including the continuation of the public hearing on a countywide lodging tax. A new date for the hearing has yet to be announced, but officials advise residents to check the county's website at co.lake.mn.us for more information.
The Lake County Highway Department had two public hearings scheduled for March 24, which have been indefinitely postponed. One hearing focused on changes to the transportation sales tax and the possible road abandonment of U.T. No. 84 Sister Lake Road. The highway engineer will accept comments from constituents who may not be available for an alternate meeting date. For questions, call 218-834-8380.
Lake County remains open for essential business, according to a news release issued Monday, March 16. However, the public is encouraged to conduct their business remotely rather than in-person at county buildings. Residents can call 218-834-8300, use email, or use the dropboxes at the Two Harbors or Silver Bay Service Centers.
There is also an emergency meeting of the Lake County Board of Commissioners scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, March 19 (after the News-Chronicle print deadline) to discuss implementing an emergency declaration, a resolution delegating the authority to allow working remotely, the closure of County buildings to the public and utilization of paid leave during a public health emergency policy.
The county also advises the public to monitor the developing COVID-19 situation through the Minnesota Department of Health hotline 800-657-3903 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
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