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Andover News

Posted on: March 18, 2020

Guidance on Public Meetings During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Governor Baker issued an Emergency Order on March 12, 2020, allowing public bodies greater flexibility in utilizing technology in the conduct of meetings under the Open Meeting Law. The Order relieved the requirement that a meeting be conducted in a public place and accessible to the public provided that provisions are in place for public access to deliberations. Andover greatly values the participation of its citizens in the public meeting process, but given the current circumstances and recommendations at both the state and federal levels to limit or avoid public gatherings, including Governor Baker’s ban on gatherings of more than 25 people, together with the present closure of public buildings to the public, the Town has decided to implement the “remote participation” procedures allowed under Governor Baker’s emergency Order for all boards, committees, and commissions. If a meeting is not to be by remote participation, it must be approved by the Town Manager. This means that for any meetings which will take place by remote participation:


  1. All or any of the members of the public body may choose to participate in a public meeting via remote access. Meetings may be virtual, in their entirety.
  2. The public will not be allowed into a Board/Committee meeting, even where there are any members of the public body and/or Town staff or official(s) physically present at the meeting location during the meeting.
  3. However, the public will be provided with alternative access through which they can watch or listen to meetings “in real time” and meeting notices will specify the manner in which members of the public may access audio or video of the meeting as it is occurring.
  4. If, despite our best efforts, our technological capabilities do not adequately support public access to virtual or remote meetings, the Town will ensure that an audio or video recording, transcript, or other comprehensive record of the proceedings at the meeting is posted on the Town’s website as soon as possible after the meeting.
  5. Where individuals have a right, or are required, to attend a public meeting or hearing, they will be provided with information about how to participate in the meeting/hearing remotely.
  6. Meeting notices will still be posted at least 48 hours in advance (not counting Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays), unless it is an emergency meeting as defined under the Open Meeting Law (in which event, the meeting notice will be posted with as much advanced notice as is possible in the circumstances).

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