Blue Earth and Nicollet counties are closing many of their buildings to public walk-in traffic, as is the city of St. Peter, due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
North Mankato has decided to keep buildings open to the public for now.
Mankato city offices have been closed to in-person visitors since mid-March.
Beginning Monday, Blue Earth County will offer walk-up services by appointment only. Phone-based and online services will still be available. Public entrances will be closed at the Government Center, Historic Courthouse, public works buildings, county libraries, some county offices inside the Justice Center, and at some other county offices.
In addition to appointments being offered, Blue Earth County employees will be available to respond to phone-based and online services. Alternative ways to provide services for residents that do not require person-to-person contact have been developed.
“We are committed to delivering services to those in our community,” Administrator Robert Meyer said in a statement. “Our No. 1 priority is to protect the health and safety of our residents and staff.”
Building closures will continue through at least Dec. 18 in alignment with the governor’s latest order to close bars, restaurants and fitness clubs to the public. At that time county leaders will look at whether buildings can reopen or if other adjustments need to be made.
Nicollet County Administrator Ryan Krosch said they will have visits only by appointment at Nicollet County Health and Human Services. He said they are discussing the possibility of making Government Center services appointment only, including the driver’s license center. For now the building remains open.
St. Peter city offices are closing to the public. The city will assist people by phone or email. If that’s not possible, people should call the department directly and someone will come to the curbside for assistance. For more information, go to saintpetermn.gov or call 507-934-4840.
In addition, the St. Peter Community Center will be closed. The library is investigating options for providing service to library patrons during the closure. For more information on the center and library, call 507-934-0667.
North Mankato City Administrator John Harrenstein said he and staff have decide to keep City Hall, Taylor Library and the police lobby open to the public.
He said in an email that they have been taking precautions. “Currently, the library is capped at 40 visitors and all visitors are required to wear masks. Pickup service remains available and all programming has been moved to a remote setting. Staff at the police lobby are separated from the public by a plexiglass window making social distancing separation achievable. Our front desk staff in city hall is also now separated from the public with a plastic barrier,” he said.
He said for anyone not comfortable coming to City Hall, staff is able to accommodate their needs electronically or over the phone.
Harrenstein said they will continue to monitor the situation to see if changes are needed.
The city of Mankato’s offices are already closed to in-person business.
“Residents were able to conduct city business virtually — online meetings, phone and email — or through the dropbox in front of the Intergovernmental Center,” said Edell Fiedler, communications and engagement director.
Other local government offices in the region also were closing or considering doing so.
Free Press Staff contributed to this report.