The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly met in person on Tuesday for the first time in months, following renovations made to the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers that account for COVID-19 mitigation.
The renovations include a completely new configuration of the assembly dais and audience, as well as the installation of new camera equipment and video monitors, of which there are now five.
“The room was completely gutted,” Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship said Monday.
The renovations also include additional COVID-19 mitigation measures. The protocols were developed by Assembly President Brent Hibbert, Assembly Vice President Brent Johnson, Blankenship, Deputy Clerk Michele Turner, and in collaboration with the borough mayor’s office and administration.
The audience rows are spaced 6 feet apart to accommodate social distancing, as are seats on the dais. New signage on the chamber doors promotes social distancing, wearing a face covering and frequent hand-washing and disinfection.
Blankenship said Monday that while the borough is not mandating that anyone wear a mask while attending meetings in person, it is strongly encouraged. The borough assembly meeting was scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. Blankenship said all but one assembly member were expected to attend in person.
Sanitization stations were also placed at the entrances of the chambers and include disposable face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. According to the protocols, refreshments will not be provided at borough meetings and public participants will not be required to sign in or sign up to speak.
The capacity of the chambers will be limited to 60% in accordance with the fire marshal’s posted occupancy and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services recommendations. Bathrooms will be open to the public, but will be cleaned before and after the meeting, as well as each hour if custodial staff is able to do so.
Additionally, a general announcement will be made at the beginning of each meaning reiterating COVID-19 mitigation protocols, such as social distancing, wearing a face covering and remote participation if a participant feels sick. People will also be encouraged to clean the microphone after providing in-person testimony.
“All attendees are encouraged to respect others rights to participate,” the protocol announcement reads. “Once you are done providing public testimony and the item of interest has been acted upon, please make room for others who may want to participate in-person.”
Assembly meetings will still be available to be accessed via Zoom for people interested in attending remotely.