The Casper City Council agreed Tuesday to reopen city offices and council meetings with social distancing and restrictions concerning the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
City Manager Carter Napier referred to Gov. Mark Gordon‘s public health orders last week about relaxing the number of people from 25 to 50 gathered indoors without restrictions such as social distancing and wearing face masks, and to 250 at outdoor events such as rodeos and outdoor concerts.
The new orders possibly would allow in-person meetings including work sessions and regular council meetings, something that hasn’t happened since the initial orders came out in March, Napier said.
“I have asked the city clerk to look into those orders and visit with our local docs and get a feel for the feasibility of indeed coming back into this building and in this room (council chambers) as a matter of fact, and having conversations with the business of the public altogether again,” he said.
Napier asked council members what they wanted regarding opening city offices and council chambers.
Council member Kenneth Bates favored opening city offices with people practicing social distancing and council chambers if people didn’t sit next to each other.
Mike Huber said infection rates are skyrocketing, and he knows places cannot stay closed forever.
Huber would like to see council meetings opened, he said.
“But I think our primary responsibility first off is the safety of everybody involved,” he said. “I think that’s what we need to focus on, and I bring that up because quite frankly I think the idea of people running around right now without face masks, without regard to social distancing, totally ignoring all the suggestions of health authorities is just irresponsible.”
He favored opening City Hall, encouraging social distancing, face masks and available hand sanitizer.
Natrona County’s offices have been practicing these safety measures, Huber added.
Steve Cathey agreed with Bates, and said that council would accomplish more with in-person meetings. Cathey suggested having people who want to speak at council meetings wait until their turn and then come inside.
Mayor Steve Freel said agreed with Cathey’s suggestion and get people in one at a time, instead of the technological problems with videoconferencing that drag out meetings until late.
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