The City of Bloomington is re-opening Kirkwood Avenue to vehicles from Walnut to Indiana after Oct. 31. Portions of the street have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow businesses – mostly restaurants – to have more space to serve customers outside.
Also ending is the "parklet" program, which cordoned off parking spaces with orange barriers to allow for extra outside seating, and the restricted parking spots designated as pick-up/drop-off zones.
City staff are preparing a proposal for Bloomington Council to consider restarting the partial Kirkwood closures and parklet program in 2022, from mid-March through October. Kaisa Goodman is the point person for the proposal, and can be reached at email@example.com.
UPDATE: Staff will present a plan for 2022 to Bloomington Council on Wednesday, Dec. 8 with a final vote expected on Dec. 15. Stayed tuned for details.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has renewed the state's public health emergency order through Oct. 31. Among other things, that means public bodies like the Bloomington Council and Monroe County Commissioners can continue holding their meetings via Zoom.
Another executive order, in effect Oct. 1, extends certain pandemic-related provisions previously in place, including registration requirements for some healthcare workers and the implementation of Indiana Medicaid.
A local mask mandate, put in place by the Monroe County Commissioners, was also extended through Oct. 31.
At its Sept. 22 meeting, the Monroe County Board of Health unanimously voted to extend the county's mask mandate until Oct. 31. The county Board of Commissioners is expected to authorize the health order at its Sept. 29 meeting.
A provision in the health order would end the mandate earlier if Monroe County’s community spread decreases. Watched the Sept. 22 Board of Health meeting here.
Monroe County Health Department will open a testing site next week for drive-thru testing of COVID-19. The site will be open weekly from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 500 Profile Parkway, on property owned by Cook Medical.
Penny Caudill, Monroe County's health administrator, made the announcement at the Sept. 17 Chamber Health & Business Conference.
More information is available on the Monroe County Health Department website here.
Businesses with more than 100 employees will soon be mandated to have all employees vaccinated or be tested weekly for COVID-19. Businesses that don’t comply could face fines of up to $14,000 per violation.
The mandate is part of President Joe Biden's six-part "Path Out of the Pandemic" that was announced on Sept. 9. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to issue an emergency temporary standard soon with details of the plan.
On Sept. 16, attorneys general from 24 states, including Indiana, sent a letter to President Biden opposing the private sector mandate. Read their letter here.
Monroe County Commissioners approved a new mask mandate for indoor public places throughout the county, in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, positivity rate, the Delta variant, and new CDC guidance.
The mandate takes effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5 and applies to indoor public places, including restaurants and retail stores. Read the full order here.
Businesses will be required to post signs regarding this mandate. Signs are available at the Chamber office (421 W. 6th St, southeast corner of 6th and Rogers), at Monroe County offices on the square, and Downtown Bloomington Inc.
Indiana University has also reimplemented a mask mandate on all campuses for all students, staff, faculty and visitors effective Thursday, Aug. 5.
At their July 21 meeting, Bloomington Council heard a request from the administration to spend a portion of the total $22.1 million that the city will be receiving from the federal American Rescue Act Plan (ARPA). The request for a $3.35 million appropriation breaks down as follows:
Watch the presentation at the July 21 council meeting on CATS here. Read the staff memo here. The council will discuss the appropriation at their July 28 Committee of the Whole meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. via this Zoom link.
Bloomington Council has approved the extension of programs that support downtown businesses, including "parklets," designated pick-up/drop-off zones, and the closing of parts of Kirkwood Avenue.
The extension, intended to support downtown businesses as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, extends through Oct. 31, 2021. Councilmembers unanimously voted to approve it at their June 2 meeting. Watch the council's deliberations on CATS here. Read the related meeting materials here.
Aligning Monroe County with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent guidance, the county's health officer has rescinded the previous health order as of Monday, May 17. The City of Bloomington also rescinded its health order, effective May 17.
This means that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask or stay socially distant from others in most instances, whether inside or out.
Masks may still be advised for people with certain health conditions, such as being immunocompromised, so those with concerns should check with their doctor. The CDC says that people who are not vaccinated should still wear a face covering and remain socially distant from others, except where required by federal, state or local rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Businesses and organizations can continue to require face coverings and physical distancing if they choose.
The Monroe County Board of Health will meet on Wednesday, May 19 to assess data and consider further updates or changes. That meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. via this Zoom link.
For more information, visit the City of Bloomington's COVID-19 site at https://bloomington.in.gov/covid-19, or the Monroe County Health Department COVID-19 site here.
On Tuesday, April 27, elected leaders for Monroe County and the City of Bloomington will meet separately to discuss spending priorities for funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Monroe County will be receiving about $29 million, while Bloomington will get $22.7 million.
The Monroe County Council and Monroe County Commissioners will meet at the end of a work session, which starts at 5:30 p.m. via this Zoom link. The Bloomington Council's meeting with Mayor John Hamilton on the same night begins at 6 p.m. via this Zoom link.
Details are still forthcoming on how these ARPA funds can be used, but the intent is to bolster local municipalities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy