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New law allows virtual meetings to continue through 2020, virtual participation for limited reasons in 2021

Townships, along with all public bodies, can conduct electronic “virtual” meetings under the new Public Act 228 of 2020, which amends the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to allow for electronic meetings under specific circumstances and for a limited period. The law was critical to ensure meetings held electronically since March 18, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic are valid and allows public bodies to continue to hold meetings via this option through the end of this year. PA 228 deems electronic meetings that took place since March 18, 2020, are valid if the public body complied with the requirements contained in the law and permits these virtual meetings to continue until Dec. 31, 2020, for any circumstance.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021, only, any member of a public body would be permitted to meet electronically due to the following: military duty (current law); medical condition defined as an illness, injury, disability, or other health-related condition; or statewide or local state of emergency or state of disaster declared that would risk the personal health/safety of the public or members of the public body.

Additionally, the law requires any member of the public body—other than a member participating remotely due to military duty—attending a public meeting remotely to declare, and be included in the meeting minutes, that the member is attending remotely and the physical location (county, municipality, and state) from which they are participating remotely.  

Revised MDHHS emergency order reduces large indoor gathering capacity, takes all regions of the state to Phase 4

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has revised and extended its “Gatherings and Face Mask” COVID-19 epidemic order, as Michigan continues to see a surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The order, issued under MCL 333.221:

  • Reduces from 500 persons to 50 persons the maximum gathering size for indoor gatherings that occur in nonresidential settings without fixed seating
  • Treats all regions of the state the same, including Region 6 encompassing 17 counties in the northern Lower Peninsula, putting the entire state in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start system
  • Requires restaurants, like other businesses, to obtain patron information to enable contact tracing
  • Sets forth that violations of these epidemic orders are punishable by a civil fine up to $1,000 and may also be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine of not more than $200, or both. Failure to comply with orders may violate a business or professional’s licensure requirements or present a workplace safety violation.

The order had immediate effect, and is in effect until rescinded. MDHHS also published an Oct. 29 Epidemic Order Fact Sheet and Oct. 29 Epidemic Order Social Gathering Guidance. The order also requires government offices, as well as businesses, schools and other operations to prohibit indoor gatherings of any kind unless they require those individuals, including employees, to wear face coverings. Provisions also provide for indoor and outdoor gathering limits, capacity limits in businesses, as well as libraries and museums, protections for workers, and requirements for contact tracing. Read more about MDHHS pandemic orders here. MTA will continue to provide members with the latest on the evolving changes.

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MTA responses and resources
(note that any references to executive orders in MTA resources are no longer valid)

Meetings

Working from home

Utilities

    Miscellaneous

    MTA COVID-19 video and podcast updates

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    Additional state and federal information and resources


    Emergency Services Providers

    Michigan Department of Treasury

    U.S. Department of Treasury

    U.S. Census Bureau

    U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

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    Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus webpage

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    National Association of Towns and Townships

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      Employer and economic considerations

      Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity

      U.S. Department of Labor

      Michigan Economic Development Corporation

      Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

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        COVID-19 resources from MTA Allied Service Providers

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        Center for Disease Control  & Prevention (CDC)

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        Federal resources and guidelines

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         World Health Organization (WHO)