By Allison Beard of Chmelik Sitkin & Davis P.S. – April 2021
As of March 22, 2021, all Washington counties advanced to Phase 3 of Governor Inslee’s Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery. Since then, guidance related to specific industries under Phase 3 have been released by the Governor’s office including a general increase in occupancy for both indoor and outdoor events, such as sporting venues, religious services, weddings, and funerals. An updated list of industry specific guidance can be found here.
Under Phase 3, government agencies must still hold public meetings remotely, and an in-person component for public meetings remains optional. The requirements for open meetings under Phase 3 remain generally the same as under Phase 2, however, there are increased occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Proclamation 20-28.15 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 8402 both extended OPMA provisions for the duration of the state of emergency or until amended/rescinded. Under these orders, if a government agency elects to include an in-person component to their public meetings, then the meeting must comply with all the provisions of Proclamation 20-28.14, which includes:
- Meetings must comply with the Miscellaneous Venues guidance;
- Any person wishing to attend an in-person public meeting component must be able to do so at a physical location or an overflow physical location which provides the ability for all persons attending to hear each other at the same time;
- If at any time during the public meeting the in-person component fails to comply with any of the elements [of Proclamation 20-28.14], the public meeting (including the remote/virtual portion) must be recessed until compliance is restored or if it cannot be
restored then continued or otherwise terminated;
- The public agency shall accommodate to the extent practicable, participation by public and the press via listening and speaking over telecommunication devices (i.e. conference call function or other call-in options);
- County and other local canvassing boards performing operations related to the 2020 general election are exempt from these requirements. Under the Miscellaneous Venues guidance, if a government agency elects to hold an in-person component to their public meeting under Phase 3 then:
- Occupancy in each room/area is limited to 50 percent capacity or 400 people, whichever is fewer (excludes staff).
- For venues over 100,000 sq. ft. in size, the capacity is capped at 600 people (this includes exhibitors and excludes staff).
- Groups of up to 10 people may be seated together – however, there must be 6 feet of physical distance between the groups.
- In addition, all the “General Requirements for all Phases” must continue to be met – the full list of requirements can be found here.
- Note that each government agency electing to hold an in-person component to public meetings must adopt a written procedure for operations setting out compliance with the Miscellaneous Venue provisions.
- Public meetings must continue to ensure compliance and adhere to all the Governor’s guidance, and both state and federal COVID-19 workplace and safety requirements, including social/physical distancing and facial covering requirements.
If you have questions regarding public meetings under Phase 3, please contact Richard Davis at email@example.com or Jon Sitkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 360-671-1796.