After 5 Months Of Closure, City Hall Partially Re-Opens To The Public
Cincinnatians can attend City Council and committee meetings in-person again, starting Monday. City Hall has been closed to the public since November due to the pandemic.
Attending public meetings virtually is still an option for now, and three council members want to make that change permanent.
A motion from Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney, Betsy Sundermann, and Interim Member Liz Keating asks city administration to extend virtual participation.
"We want to keep that opportunity there because public engagement is important, and the more people who participate in what's going on in city government, the better it is for all of us," Keating said.
The motion also asks that council members, the mayor and city officials be allowed to participate virtually. A temporary change in state law allowing for virtual public meetings is set to expire July 1. A bill introduced in the legislature would make it permanent.
Keating says the change could allow more people to run for public office.
"Why should they have to decide whether or not to go pick up their sick kid, or do their duty as a public official and vote?" she said.
City administration could allow for virtual public comment on its own. A spokesperson said that decision hasn't been made.
City departments and offices located in City Hall remain closed to the public. A memo from City Manager Paula Boggs Muething says her office is working with the Cincinnati Health Department on plans for full re-opening, including in-person participation for other city boards and commissions.