With COVID-19 case increases in the state and county, the Medford City Council decided to take a proactive measure this week to ensure the safety of the staff and patrons at the only bar in town.


Staff at the Medford Muni are now required to wear masks until further notice, due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases in both the state and the county. The Muni is owned and operated by the city. (File photo/southernminn.com)

During the City Council meeting Monday night, the council approved mandating the staff at the Medford Muni to wear masks until further notice. The decision was made after Mayor Danny Thomas and Administrative Director of Operations Jed Petersen had several conversations with the Muni staff.

“We need to protect our employees, and I think a mask does that,” Thomas said. “We also need to protect the patrons that come [to the Muni] … We need to be proactive in this. Our utility guys put on masks when they get in a vehicle together; [City Hall staff] have masks on. I just really believe we should at least have masks on our employees.”

Thomas said during the conversations with the Muni staff, they all preferred wearing masks over reinstalling the plexiglass that used to hang between the bar and the customers. According to Thomas, the staff believes the plexiglass would cause them to lose customers. Councilor Grace Bartlett added the City Council knows first hand how difficult it was to hear others with the plexiglass up, referring to the beginning of the year when council meetings were held in the Muni to accommodate for social distancing during the pandemic.

“It would be best and easier if we did the masks,” Bartlett said. “I know there were so many negative comments about the plexiglass and being unable to hear.”

Council Chad Langeslag echoed Thomas’ remarks, adding that he currently has to wear a mask at his job, too.

“I do believe we need to be proactive in some aspect,” he said. “Most places the employees are all required to wear masks anyway.”

Councilors Chad Merritt and Mandy Mueller both said they were indifferent about picking masks over plexiglass, and the decision to mandate masks for the Muni staff passed unanimously. Thomas asserted the mandate was for the staff only, and not the customers. He also said he feels this was the right decision for the council to make so help ensure they won’t have to shut the liquor store and bar down, due to COVID-19 exposures.

“I personally don’t want to see it shut down,” Thomas said. “It will really hurt us if that happens with the Christmas season here and kids coming home.”

The City Council also discussed if they were obligated to pay staff members who are out sick due to COVID-19 or if the staff could use paid time off (PTO), but City Clerk Beth Jackson reminded them that only the manager at the Muni has PTO.

Also during the meeting, the City Council approved $3,900 in donations for the Medford Fire Department and for the Medford Christmas Lights fund. Thomas abstained from voting, as he and his wife, Linda, made two $450 donations — one to each area. The remaining $3,000 came from Compeer Financial and is set to be used for upgrades to the fire department’s emergency response equipment.

Reach Associate Editor Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @AnnieGranlund. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.

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