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In response to the growing COVID-19 disease crisis, the City of Oklahoma City will hold its City Council meetings and other city meetings by teleconference starting Tuesday morning.

There is no defined end date for the practice or announced time to revisit the decision to carry out meetings by teleconference. There are no estimates as to when COVID-19 will subside and when it will be safe to gather in public places again.

No plans have been announced to hold meetings by videoconference.

The City Council Chamber is closed for now in the ongoing effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

“Conducting Oklahoma City Council meetings by teleconference during the pandemic ensures we can maintain legal and open public meetings, but be safe while we continue our operations,” said City Clerk Frances Kersey.

After the Council meeting Tuesday other City Boards, trusts, commissions, and committees may use teleconferencing according to Kristy Yager with the City.

This comes after Mayor David Holt issued an explicit shelter in place order that went into effect Saturday night at 11:59 p.m. The order tightened already tight restrictions on gatherings of ten or more.

New law

The bill SB 661 was signed into effect March 19 by Governor Kevin Stitt allows the practice of teleconferencing or videoconferencing.

However, the law is more strict about the public’s means of access to videoconferencing.

Except for the ability to meet through electronic means out of each other’s physical presence, not much else has changed in terms of requirements of public bodies to allow the public to hear meetings live as they are being conducted.

The new law allows for teleconferencing or videoconferencing instead of live meetings but only if the public is allowed access by the same means.

The Open Meetings Act applies to teleconferencing and videoconferencing in that Council members are still restricted from conducting business by informal electronic means where the public is not able to listen in.

The City will continue to post meeting agendas on its website in the same fashion it has in the past.

City residents may access a meeting calendar and agendas for meetings at https://www.okc.gov/departments/city-clerk/meetings.

How to listen and participate

City staff provided the following information:

To listen to the meeting, call (405) 534-4946. When prompted, enter Conference ID 637036762#.

To sign up to speak about an agenda item or during “Citizens to Be Heard,” or ask questions about the meeting, call (405) 297-2391 or text (405) 219-7987.

Send requests to speak before the meeting to avoid sending it after the item has been considered. The City Clerk’s Office will attempt to submit requests sent during the meeting to the Mayor.

A recording of the meeting will be posted as normal later in the day to the City’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/cityofokc.

The Mayor will announce at the beginning of the meeting that if connections are lost, the City will attempt to restore them for up to 30 minutes. The meeting will be rescheduled they aren’t restored in time.

If you’re disconnected, try connecting again before calling the question line.

Last Updated March 30, 2020, 11:04 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor