If you’ve taken a stroll down Half Moon Bay’s Main Street in these waning months of the pandemic, you’ve likely noticed most of the retail shops threw open their doors in a fit of late-pandemic exuberance, a few eateries added outdoor dining options and you can even see the smiles of the mostly maskless stream of visitors. You may have also noticed that one prominent building remains pretty quiet.

The sign on the door at 501 Main St. reads: “CITY HALL CURRENTLY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.” All caps. Block letters. Underlined.

The sign is coming down, according to City Manager Bob Nisbet, who told us last week that he intends to open the bank building-turned-civic hub on May 16. In fact, he says he would do it sooner had not the clerk at the front desk decamped for employment with a certain online retailer during the health crisis.

We’re glad City Hall is reopening. And we think it should have reopened months ago, even if it meant others in City Hall had to watch the front desk to make it happen.

We are sympathetic to the legitimate health concerns that caused the closure in the first place. The public safety measures outlined by public health authorities throughout the pandemic — including restrictions on in-person business — were entirely appropriate and key to keeping a lid on the crisis in the Bay Area. We all needed to keep our distance for a long while. We masked up — and the more prudent among us still do in certain indoor situations. We have been vaccinated and boosted. The last thing we want is to put municipal employees or residents at undue risk of contracting a deadly virus.

Closing shop and working from home through much of 2020 and 2021 was entirely appropriate. Continuing to do so now — on a street where literally everything else is open — reeks of convenience. Being closed now, even for another two weeks, sends the wrong message to residents and visitors who have long since returned to school, gone back to the office and are brave enough to walk around a closed City Hall to spend their money downtown.

Last week, none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said the United States is in a transitional phase of the pandemic. Hospitals are no longer under imminent threat. The vast majority of us are immunized and most of us, it turns out, have already come down with a case of COVID-19. For better or worse, the mask mandates have fallen. The pandemic isn’t over, but the extraordinary efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 are done, at least for now.

We’re glad to hear city officials are joining the rest of us downtown by unlocking the front door. May 16 can’t come soon enough.

Clay Lambert

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