BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After more than two years of being closed to the public, Baltimore City Hall reopened its doors to residents Monday.
The building has been closed since March of 2020.READ MORE: Montessori Public Charter School In Baltimore No Longer On Lockdown After Threat Called In
“It’s a really important day. This is the first day in two years that residents and media will be able to come inside City Hall and watch government at work,” said City Council President Nick Mosby.
Some of the conveniences constituents have gotten used to will temporarily stop. City Council President Mosby said virtual testimonies will not be available for several weeks and possibly months. Anyone who wants to speak on the record will have to speak in person at City Hall.
After more than 2 years, Baltimore City Hall opens to the public and resumes in person meetings.
— Avajoye Burnett (@AvajoyeWJZ) April 4, 2022
“The city does not have the technology in place for the council chambers – for this meeting and for other hearings to be set up to continue with the hybrid solution where folks can either come and testify in person or either at home,” says Mosby. “In the future, the administration is working on setting up the chambers so we will be able to do that.
Council members were welcomed back with a bag that included a Baltimore City flag lapel pin, an ink pen and a cell phone stand for their desks.
Baltimore City has come under pressure for being one of the last jurisdictions to re-open. The mayor has said he’s been following scientific guidance.
Some other city government buildings had already reopened with limitations like the courts – and a building on Holliday Street where people pay bills.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Cool & Cloudy With Some Sunshine
“Sometimes you just get a voicemail and that is very aggravating but now that it’s open I’m like ‘weeee!’ Good good good,” says Deborah Monroe.
Some residents have said the lines have been long inside some buildings, but they are grateful to have an option to speak with a representative in person.
“Just waiting for someone to respond to me on the phone or through text or through my email. But it’s very hard. I can say that,” one woman told WJZ.
“You’re not gonna get no one over the phone, that’s a long wait,” said Linda Wilkerson. “So I prefer to come down and just go in here and take care of my business because waiting on that phone could take forever. Nobody picks up. ”
Residents who are visiting Baltimore City Hall will have to wear a mask and conduct COVID-19 pre-screenings.
Anne Arundel, Carroll, Baltimore, Harford and Howard Counties have already reopened their government buildings to the public. However, at least one of those jurisdictions is still holding virtual meetings.
Baltimore County’s council chairman, Julian Jones, said the county is working on getting a hybrid option for testimonies in place so that constituents will be able to testify in person and online.MORE NEWS: Dunbar High School In Baltimore Dismisses Early Due To Gas Leak