DES MOINES, Iowa – After more than a year, the Des Moines City Council will return to in-person meetings Monday. In order to keep people safe and healthy, new protocols will be in place.
While some of the precautions are in response to the pandemic, Councilman Josh Mandelbaum says the security measures are in response to incidents at other public facilities and have been years in the making.
“We’re doing things that are consistent with other public buildings,” Mandelbaum, who represents Ward 3, said. “If you go to the State Capitol or the Judicial Building, they all have security measures at the entrance and this is consistent with that. It’s pretty standard to try and keep the public safe but still maintain accessibility to these buildings.”
Those who want to attend meetings will have to pass through a security check and metal detector.
Council meetings will start at 5:00 p.m. rather than 4:30 p.m. That’s because City Hall will close at 4:00 p.m. to allow for a security sweep, and then the building will reopen at 4:30 p.m. for people to enter.
Occupancy in council chambers will be limited to 25 members of the public at a time. There will be an overflow space provided.
Masks are not required for those who are vaccinated, but strongly encouraged for those who are not.
Mandelbaum said the council is ready to be back in person, but these protocols are a key part in coming back.
“We still need to work to get our vaccination rates up in Polk County and in the state. There’s so many people in our community that can’t get vaccinated. There are a number of kids who are not eligible yet, and so we still need to take precautions to keep everyone in our community safe,” Mandelbaum said. “We have to keep working to get that balance right. Hopefully we’ve done it here but if we need to adjust, we’ll adjust.”