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Minneapolis inauguration ceremony held under COVID-19 protocols

The Jan. 10, 2022 inauguration ceremony was the first to be held under COVID-19 protocols.
Minneapolis City Council members watch Mayor Jacob Frey give his inaugural address on Jan. 10. Photo courtesy of City of Minneapolis.

Due to the rise of COVID-19 cases statewide, the Jan. 10 inauguration of the Minneapolis City Council, Board of Estimates and Taxation members, and the mayor took place under several COVID-19 preventative measures.

The preventative measures and remote setting relieved some city council members, including those representing the University area, given the current COVID-19 situation in Minneapolis, said Council Member Elliott Payne.

The inauguration was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center and was closed to the public, which is different from previous years where inauguration ceremonies were considered public events, according to the City of Minneapolis.

After the inauguration, the city council held their first meeting remotely with city councilors streaming in from where they felt comfortable. It was supposed to be in-person, but on Jan. 7 the councilors decided to make it remote due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. The event was live-streamed on the city YouTube page.

This event was the first full council and mayoral inauguration held under COVID-19 safety protocols. The city required everyone in attendance to wear masks and bring proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event.

Seven new council members took the oath of office: Payne from Ward 1, Robin Wonsley Worlobah from Ward 2, and Michael Rainville from Ward 3, all councilors who represent the University area.

In attendance were various city officials, including all 13 council members, Mayor Jacob Frey, and members of the Board of Estimates and Taxation. Along with that, everyone being inaugurated was permitted to bring 10 guests each.

Wonsley Worlobah said she was thankful for the COVID-19 protections that were put in place for the event.

“All of our guests and city council members could go [on Jan. 7] to get free COVID testing to make sure that everyone is COVID negative in that space,” Wonsley-Worlobah said. “All of the guests with their associated council member, they’re all seated together and socially distanced amongst one another in that space.”

The event featured speakers and an inaugural address from Frey. At the meeting, the council president and vice president were, elected and council members were selected to be on committees.

Council Member Payne, one of the newly elected council members in 2021, ran for Vice President of the City Council but lost to Linea Palmisano. He said holding the meeting remotely was the safest decision with the rise of COVID-19 cases.

“I think it was the right call to shift the first meeting to virtual just so that we can continue to be accessible and transparent about the process without excluding people,” Payne said. “Virtual actually can be more accessible for a lot of people who can’t otherwise get downtown for some of these meetings.”

Payne said he would be open to continuing meetings online, and council member Rainville said he expected council meetings to continue to be held remotely while COVID-19 cases are rising.

“We’re the most advanced city and [we are] using technology to have transparency in our meetings and access to our meetings,” Rainville said. “The optimist in me says that we will get back to face-to-face meetings and in the meantime, we have the technology and expertise to conduct the business of people.”

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