As of June 30, 2021 Governor Inslee has “opened up” Washington State from COVID19 restrictions, however the state of emergency is still in effect. What does this mean for municipal agencies and their compliance with the OPMA?
Here are the current requirements regarding open public meetings:
- Proclamation 20-28.15 is still in effect which extends the substantive provisions of Proclamation 20-28.14. This means the following must be complied with:
- The meeting must be conducted, at minimum, through telephonic access and may also include other electronic or remote means of access; and
- The meeting must provide the ability for all persons attending to hear the meeting and each other at the same time.
- Agencies may incorporate an in-person component to their public meetings if the following are complied with:
- The State’s “Miscellaneous Venues” guidance requirements;
- Any person wishing to attend in person a public meeting with an in-person component must be able to do so at a physical location or overflow area that provides the ability for all persons attending to hear each other at the same time; and
- If at any time during the public meeting the in-person component cannot comply with these requirements, the public meeting must be recessed until compliance is restored or otherwise must be terminated; and
- Agencies utilizing an in-person component shall accommodate to the extent practicable, telephonic participation by attendees.
- Note that the State updated the Miscellaneous Venues guidance on June 30, 2021 which now provides:
- No restriction on capacity;
- No physical distancing requirements;
- Follow current applicable face covering requirements as outlined in Proclamation 20-25 et seq., Secretary of Health Order 20-03.2, and LNI Publication F414-179.
This means masks are still required for unvaccinated individuals when attending an indoor public meeting. Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks. Government agencies do not have to verify whether attendees are vaccinated or unvaccinated. However, keep in mind that staff and elected officials in attendance would be subject to the L&I guidance (the employer must first verify that individuals are fully vaccinated before such individuals can work without a mask). Government agencies, at their discretion, may require all attendees to wear masks.
If you have questions regarding the OPMA and compliance with the current state COVID19 requirements, please contact Allison M. Beard at firstname.lastname@example.org or our office at 360-671-1796.