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Duluth City Council to resume in-person meetings

As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, councilors are preparing to gather as a group.

Duluth City Hall
Duluth City Hall
File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — After about two years of meeting remotely to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the City Council is expected to return to face-to-face interaction for an April 7 agenda session.

That means members of the public will be welcome to attend council meetings in person, as well.

But Council President Arik Forsman said a hybrid option will remain, allowing interested parties to continue to listen, watch and participate in meetings via the city's online Webex platform, if they wish.

"We're working through what our technology is capable right now, because we've had some glitches and issues with how Webex functions in City Hall," he said, explaining that some software updates may be required, perhaps resulting in a slight delay with the online capabilities.

"We're still looking at allowing people to come electronically, just recognizing the world has changed, and we've gotten used to that," Forsman said. "It makes public meetings more accessible to people."

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The city also plans to offer residents the option of testifying at City Hall from an overflow room, in addition to directly from council chambers, to allow for greater social distancing. The city is no longer requiring masks in municipal buildings, although it continues to recommend them.

Forsman said he's looking forward to in-person meetings and has mixed feelings about the virtual format in which the council has been forced to operate for the past couple years .

"There's been both good and bad to it," he said. "The good thing is that it seems like we've had more people attend meetings. I saw a lot of new names that I'd never seen before show up at meetings online."

"But it's just not the same as being face to face, in person, looking people in the eye and hearing what they have to say. So, that's why I'm really excited we're finally get back to meeting like that," he said

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Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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