The Bellevue City Council discussed plans with city staff Monday to open City Hall to the public, while protecting personnel from COVID-19 transmission. The building has been closed due to the coronavirus, and staff can be reached by telephone.

Reopening options include the installation of a hand-sanitizing station and keeping visits on the ground floor of the building only.

“It’s rare that we get more than one customer in here at a time,” Community Development Director Diane Shay said. She said recently that she has been meeting with developers outside of the office using social distancing and masks.

City Clerk and Treasurer Marian Edwards said opening City Hall would pose a risk to her department. Due to her proximity to those entering the building she would have to be the “de facto police force” in making sure visitors follow safety protocols, she said.

“Opening the door is unsafe and unfair and puts us at the most risk,” Edwards said.

A hand-sanitization station was priced out at $129 per month from Clear Creek Disposal, which would provide 1,500 “pumps” of sanitizer each month. Edwards suggested an all-weather telephone on the porch for customers to call in for a visit.

Shay said some expenses incurred due to the pandemic would be reimbursable from the federal government.

City Councilman Doug Brown said city staff could follow the example of local hardware stores and “kick someone out” if they are not wearing a face mask in the building. But City Councilman Greg Cappel said he had recently been to a local hardware store and employees were not wearing masks.

“I was a little shocked,” Cappel said.

City Councilman Chris Johnson said he supports city staff in whatever they would choose to do, and when. The rest of the council was in general agreement.

Edwards said in an interview that no date has been set to open City Hall.

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