Washington public will be able to attend government meetings in person next month

After more than two years of completely remote meetings, the Seattle City Council will begin hybrid meetings in June, allowing members of the public to convene at City Hall.

In response to Gov. Jay Inslee lifting orders that allowed fully remote meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Council President Debora Juarez announced Monday that the council would transition to a new, hybrid meeting model, beginning June 1.

“We have been working on this for about three weeks in the spirit of public health and public safety, but also honoring the principles of the Open Public Meetings Act, accessibility and people’s opportunity to come to City Hall or to come to chambers and provide public comments,” Juarez said during a remote council briefing Monday.

“So some of us are going to be in chambers for committee — and I certainly will be one of them — but if there are some council members that have a hybrid plan, I’m open to all those options because the most important thing is public health and public safety,” Juarez said.

In a memo sent to council members Monday, Juarez said the council will “strongly encourage employees and public attendees to wear face coverings during public meetings and signage will be developed for the chamber area emphasizing this message.”

For committee meetings, the memo says members of the public, presenters and committee members will be allowed to participate either in person or remotely, while the support team and committee chair will be on-site.

A spokesperson for the city attorney said Friday the office interprets the governor’s decision to mean that “there will need to be a physical location provided where a member of the public may attend in person,” noting that whether a council member chooses to attend in person will still be up to the council member, under current council rules.

The Metropolitan King County Council is scheduled to return to in-person meetings June 7, after a $100,000 upgrade to its legislative chamber to make it easier for the public to comment remotely [Seattle Times].



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