By Anna Jauhola
The City of Lancaster has declared an emergency ahead of any coronavirus diagnoses in Kittson County. During an emergency meeting on Wednesday, March 18, the council gathered in Lancaster City Hall at tables and spread out at least 6 feet from each other.
The declaration acknowledges that should the virus break out in the county, many people will likely be quarantined or encouraged to stay home, events will be halted and other precautionary measures will be taken.
In the middle of a pandemic such as this, state law allows that in-person public meetings are impractical and not prudent. State statute Chapter 12, section 13D.021 states public entities can hold their public meetings via phone or other electronic means.
Statute Chapter 12, section 12.29, subd. 1 also allows cities to extend the emergency, which is typically a three-day period. The city extended the emergency indefinitely until the council ends it by resolution.
In response to the entire situation, the council has agreed the public should limit its visitation to the city office and maintenance shop. If business can be done over the phone, they encourage the public to call the city office at 762-6472, or to simply drop bill payments and correspondence in the dropbox.
The Lancaster Liquor Store had already closed its on-sale operations to the public per state government orders on Tuesday, March 17. However, the council approved keeping the Liquor Store open for off-sale liquor and auto-fry take out food, but will limit the number of people in the store to two at a time. The hours will remain flexible at the discretion of management.
The council approved closing the Lancaster Community Center through Monday, April 6. All events have been canceled through that date anyway. This date could change as the situation changes.
The council also approved delaying water shut-offs for 90 days and will revisit the issue at that point.
By Anna Jauhola