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St. Petersburg City Council cancels Thursday’s meeting over COVID-19 exposure

It’s the first time a meeting was canceled due to the virus since the council resumed in-person meetings last fall.
Plexiglass dividers shield St. Petersburg City Council members from each other on the dais. This Thursday's council meeting was canceled due to possible exposure at City Hall to COVID-19.
Plexiglass dividers shield St. Petersburg City Council members from each other on the dais. This Thursday's council meeting was canceled due to possible exposure at City Hall to COVID-19. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Published Mar. 28, 2021|Updated Mar. 28, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — City officials canceled this Thursday’s City Council meeting because of a coronavirus outbreak inside City Hall.

It will be the first time a council meeting was canceled due to COVID-19 since that body resumed in-person meetings last fall.

“We had a few cases on the second floor of City Hall (where council members and the mayoral administration have offices), and just in an abundance of caution, it made sense to go ahead and cancel next weeks’ meeting,” Council Chair Ed Montanari said Sunday.

He said it was his call to cancel the meeting after officials received confirmation of three cases in the building. The council’s administrative officer, Cindy Sheppard, circulated an email Friday afternoon announcing the cancellation.

Montanari did not release any information about those who tested positive, citing privacy concerns. He said no elected officials were among the group.

Ben Kirby, the spokesman for Mayor Rick Kriseman, said that any city employees “with direct or prolonged exposure to positive individuals will be following protocols.”

The council went on hiatus for several weeks when the virus first took hold last spring, then started holding virtual meetings.

In November, by order of Gov. Ron DeSantis, local governments were forced to resume in-person meetings. City workers installed plexiglass dividers to separate council members on the dais and officials implemented a host of safety measures to ensure members of the public who attended meetings could do so while remaining distanced.

All the items on the April 1 agenda will be bumped to April 8. Montanari said city attorneys confirmed there are no legal issues with delaying this week’s agenda.

Among those items bumped from the April 1 meeting to April 8: A request filed by Council member Robert Blackmon asking the council to terminate Kriseman’s state of emergency, which he declared a year ago, by passing “a resolution making findings concerning the absence of an immediate danger to the public health, safety, or welfare of the city with respect to COVID-19.”