City Hall, Milwaukee buildings reopen to the public following pandemic closures

NOW: City Hall, Milwaukee buildings reopen to the public following pandemic closures

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- City hall and other Milwaukee buildings reopened to the public on Monday, June 21 for the first time since the pandemic started.

About 800 of the city's 6,200 employees have been working remotely during the pandemic. About half of those employees are returning to the office full-time, according to Director of Employee Relations for the City of Milwaukee Makda Fessahaye.

"It's really exciting to be back," Fessahaye said. "It's exciting to see, you know, our faces or faces behind the masks."

All city functions transitioned online or over the phone during the pandemic, which isn't always accessible to everyone. With vaccination rates rising and the spread of COVID-19 cases slowing, now seemed like a good time to shift back.

"This means that our service counters or front desk workers are now open to city of Milwaukee residents," Fessahaye said. "So, they can have face-to-face interactions with our staff."

Anyone entering the building is required to wear a face covering. 

“We’ve been through a lot together over the course of the past nearly 15 months, and I know that people in the city of Milwaukee have been wanting to get down here, wanting to see the representatives, they want to go pay their taxes, they want to be able to apply for licenses and do those things in person," Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson said.

Johnson said alders and the mayor's office are making appointments to meet face-to-face.

"That's the bread and butter of jobs like this," Johnson said. "Our front door is open. It's the first time it's been for a number of months."

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