This week Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee’s office announced they will no longer continue to renew former Governor Raimondo’s Executive Order 20-05 (“Order”) allowing public bodies to meet remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the Order, the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) did not allow for remote participation in public meetings, absent a few specific exceptions.
The Order will expire Friday, July 23rd, and thereafter, all public bodies must return to pre-pandemic, in-person meetings.
A few key points to keep in mind when the Order expires July 23rd:
- Although it is not a requirement of the OMA, public bodies are encouraged to live stream meetings to ensure as much public access and engagement as possible.
- A return to in-person meetings may result in a higher than usual community member turnout since Governor McKee has also lifted all indoor capacity restrictions. Aside from a meeting venue’s legal capacity limit, public governing bodies can no longer set capacity limits of their own for in-person meetings.
If there are any questions or concerns regarding the expiration of Executive Order 20-05 and how it may impact your public entity, please contact Matthew R. Plain, Timothy J. Groves, or your Barton Gilman attorney at 401-273-7171.
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