OCEAN CITY — After three months of virtual meetings, the Mayor and Council will meet in person at City Hall next week in a work session with a hybrid format.
For nearly three months, the Mayor and Council have been holding regular public meetings and work sessions, along with a myriad of special sessions, in a virtual format via Zoom. With Maryland now in stage two of its COVID-19 recovery plan and more public and private entities reopening, the Mayor and Council will resume meeting in person, in public at City Hall for next Tuesday’s work session in a hybrid format to accommodate at least one member.
Last week, Councilman Tony DeLuca made a motion to return to open public meetings in council chambers at City Hall with many of the key COVID-19 numbers in Maryland declining and more and more restrictions being relaxed. However, after Councilman Dennis Dare expressed he remained uncomfortable returning to quickly to the open, in-person public meeting format, that measure was put on the back-burner to allow staff to come up with a hybrid format to allow Dare to continue to participate remotely.
As a result, staff came up with a plan that includes most of the Mayor and Council members, staff, the public and the press to resume meeting at City Hall with Dare participating remotely via Zoom. The traditional live-stream of the meetings will be available to the public and videos of the meetings will continue to be posted on the town’s website the following day.
Attendees will enter the council chambers via the entrance to City Hall at 3rd Street near the gazebo. A sign-in sheet will be posted including names, addresses and contact information for attendees. Those participating or attending the public meetings will have to complete a wellness monitoring form and each attendee will have a temperature check by trained staff.
The council will be distanced socially on a dais, as will the various staff members in attendance. The attending public is required to practice social distancing using common sense when choosing their seats. Hand sanitizer will be available and the wearing of masks is optional but encouraged.
Attendees will be allowed and encouraged to speak or ask questions during the regular public comment period, but there will be no availability for public comment via the virtual Zoom format. Attendees cannot distribute documents to the council. Instead, any documents can be handed, or ideally, forwarded to the city clerk electronically.