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Open Meeting Law and Coronavirus Update

On March 12, 2020, Governor Baker issued an Order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law that governs various public meetings, such as the meetings of Zoning Boards, Planning Boards, Conservation Commissions, and many others.  The Governor’s Order is intended to protect public health, while allowing municipalities and the Commonwealth to continue to function lawfully during this difficult time.

Specifically, the Order relieves public bodies from the requirement to hold in-person meetings, provided that adequate alternative means of public access are provided.  This may include conference calls, video conferences, or other means, provided that the members of the public body and the public may interact in real time and at no cost to the public.  The Order also permits members of public bodies to participate by remote access, suspending the requirement that a quorum of a board must attend a meeting in-person.

The Governor’s Order should allow many public boards to function remotely over the coming weeks and to carry on their business and duties.  It appears the practical means of implementing remote public hearings will be determined on a town-by-town or board-by-board basis, and preparation for conducting business in this manner is likely still very much being developed.

Despite the unprecedented challenges created by Covid-19 (coronavirus) Johnson & Borenstein remains fully operational during this time and ready to represent and protect our clients’ interests and objectives on all fronts,  By taking practical protective measures at our Andover office and by leveraging our robust technical infrastructure and cloud computing capabilities, we remain available to you.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.