BALTIMORE — It was a long time coming but Baltimore’s City Hall is finally open to the public.
Baltimore City Council members held an in-person council meeting on Monday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began two years ago.
It was back to business as usual for city officials.
For community members who haven’t been able to attend these council meetings in person, not being able to was a major concern for many people across the city given other government buildings were open.
Residents told WMAR-2 they are excited about the reopening because now they can bring their concerns directly to City Council.
“It’s one thing to be able to meet virtually or talk someone over an email, it’s another to see your city government function and work face to face, and that’s what tonight is all about," Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby said.
Mosby called it a momentous occasion.
“This City Hall was the only City Hall in large city that wasn’t open," Mosby said.
The long awaited reopening eased frustrations for some who were concerned about the years long closure.
“No engagement," a resident said. "No respect or even returning emails. It’s just been very frustrating.”
While City Hall remained closed, City Council meetings went virtual.
Christina Flowers says she felt it was difficult to hold city leaders accountable.
“And I just believe that absences is not what we need when we are in a city in crisis.," Flowers said.
Flowers, who is also a homeless advocate, says reopening City Hall is exciting because now she can directly take her concerns to council members.
“It’s important that this is open, from homeless to homicides, we can be able to engage our city officials for the accountability that’s needed on these streets," Flowers said.
The meeting marked the first time City Councilman Antonio Glover participated in a full in-person council meeting.
“It was great to see the doors open for the citizens of Baltimore," Glover said.
Glover also addressed the criticism about why it took the city two years to reopen.
He says he understands the frustrations, adding he looks forward to talking community members face to face.
“We work for the people that we serve. We need to hear them first hand in order for them to voice their opinion," Glover said.
Masks are still required during public meetings despite the indoor mask mandate being lifted in the city last month. All visitors are subject to a health screening to enter any city building. Cleaning schedules will also be increased.
Despite government buildings opening back up, the City's main impound lot will stay closed. WMAR-2 News' Mallory Sofastaii reached out to the City for answers. You can find that story here.