After a year of closure, City Hall is back open, signaling a return to pre-pandemic life

Iowa City government members have no concern of a potential COVID-19 outbreak, as there is still COVID-19 mitigation around City Hall.


Iowa City City Hall on Tuesday, July, 6, 2021. City Hall is located at 410 E. Washington Street.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter

Iowa City City Hall is now open after being closed to the public since March 2020. The hall was closed in response to concerns over the pandemic.

The reopening of City Hall means that the public can now go in and conduct business, including attending meetings or purchasing permits or licenses.

This decision to open City Hall back to the public comes as the result of updated Center for Disease Control guidelines and increasing levels of comfort of the public and Iowa City government, Assistant City Manager Rachel Kilburg said.

“These changes signal a move back to pre-pandemic operations; however, the City will remain vigilant in monitoring the local and national public health situation,” the official city manager statement said.

City Hall is not requiring visitors to wear masks, but it is encouraging them.

Other COVID-19 protocols that are in place at City Hall are hand sanitizers placed around the building, as well as free masks at the entrance for those who want to wear one and glass shields in workstations.

“So just a couple of the standard kind of COVID protocol measures, and then we just are asking all of our visitors as well as our staff to just be respectful, be aware that everyone has different comfort levels and there may be individuals who still wish to wear a mask for a number of different reasons,” Kilburg said. “We just respect all of those decisions.”

Lately, Johnson County Public Health has reported days when COVID-19 cases are in the single digits, and days when there are no cases reported at all, Community Health Manager Sam Jarvis said.

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In regard to a potential COVID-19 outbreak in city hall, Jarvis said he doesn’t believe that one could happen.

“As always, in any situation in any location, you know, the pandemic is still here,” Jarvis said. “But as folks get back there, then they continue to do all the other mitigation measures now less so with wearing masks, but washing their hands, covering their coughs, staying home when they’re sick. We still have a layered approach, and we know that a lot of our partners and facilities here in our community are following those approaches.”

City Councilor Janice Weiner said while cases are decreasing in Johnson County, the future is still uncertain.

“Meeting in person is very different than meeting virtually, via Zoom — it will bring a very different dynamic,” she said. “There are no guarantees. We don’t know what will happen with the variants, but this is our shot at a semblance of normalcy.”

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