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OLG: Virtual meetings allow councils to function during COVID-19 restrictions

The NSW Government is ensuring local councils can continue to function during COVID-19 restrictions with existing laws enabling them to hold meetings electronically instead of physically. The next PUBLIC ACCESS session is scheduled for 6 July 2021 with the next Council meeting on the 13 July 2021. Unfortunately the Public Access session, that sees members of the public invited to speak for seven minutes each on council issues, will be Zoomed. Due to Council's determination to limit, as best as possible, any opportunity for public inclusion the Public Access session will only have an audience of the community who register to watch on with no recording made, streamed or archived. Presentations are posted to the basement of Council's archives for the keener Council followers to discover a few days after the event. The Office of Local Government advise that "Virtual meetings will help councils continue to make important decisions on behalf of the community while complying with Public Health Orders and minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission. "Councils debate and determine important community issues at council meetings and it’s vital that this decision making process continues during COVID-19 restrictions. "Regulations introduced earlier this year allow councils to meet by audio-visual link instead of physically to protect councillors, staff and members of the public from COVID-19. "With residents of Greater Sydney unable to attend council meetings in person because of current stay-at-home orders, councils meeting electronically can still provide public access by livestreaming them so local residents can tune in. The Office of Local Government say "Members of the public must still be permitted to physically attend council meetings outside of Greater Sydney, however, councils must ensure there is 4 square metres of space for each resident in attendance. Requirements for social distancing and the wearing of face masks must also be met." That being the case it will be interesting to see if Eurobodalla Council decides to conduct a the July 13th Council Meeting at the Moruya chambers or will they decide instead to resort to Zoom as they have in the past citing that they have three councillors who are immune compromised.

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