The Portland City Council unanimously supported declaring a limited emergency Monday that will allow them to continue meeting virtually as cases of COVID-19 continue to tick upwards and City Hall remains closed to the public.

According to the resolution, in-person meetings are not possible because “city council chambers and other available meeting rooms in City Hall have poor ventilation and do not provide sufficient space” to distance members of the public, city staff and council, board and committee members. The resolution recommends other board and committees also continue meeting virtually until the limited emergency is lifted.

Mayor Kate Snyder said of the emergency order is “not intended to limit public access.”

“It’s our priority to protect the public’s health. For me, this feels like the prudent path to take,” she said according to the Press Herald.

City staff had been working on plans to open up City Hall soon to more in-person services, but because of the rise in cases of COVID-19, the prevalence of the Delta variant and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that recommends masking indoors again, City Manager Jon Jennings decided to put those plans on hold.

City Hall will continue to be open for limited in-person appointments to pay automobile registration and property taxes and walk-in service to obtain birth/death or marriage certificates or dog licenses, register to vote  or to pay parking tickets or get parking permits. Other city services will continue to available online.