The City of Oklahoma City Council has been able to continue interaction with the public via Zoom meetings and protect the health of the Mayor, Councilors, and staff since March. But, that has come to an end.
A combination of additional equipment and new procedures are now in place to offer more protection to City staff, elected officials, and the public.
Return to in-person
The Oklahoma State Legislature’s Senate Bill 661 temporarily modified the Open Meetings Act so that government entities could hold virtual meetings to avoid public meetings becoming super-spreader events.
The legislation has now seen its sunset on November 15. Without any further legislation, public bodies have had to find ways to meet and give access to the public that would also do as much as possible to keep everyone safe from the coronavirus pandemic.
Remodeling for access, safety
Permanent improvements to the Council Chamber and temporary equipment has been installed to reduce the possibility of spreading the coronavirus in the absence of use over the last months since March.
Four new monitors have been installed to allow visitors to meetings in the chamber to better view projected slide decks and other illustrations such as voting. Two hang on the flanks of the public seating area.
The largest one hangs in the middle just in front of the horseshoe with another monitor mounted on the back for councilors to see as well as watching their own touch-screen monitors at their stations.
The horseshoe itself has been fitted with plastic partitions to protect councilors from each other and from anyone who is speaking in front of the horseshoe. At a later date when the threat is lower, those partitians can be removed without damaging the horseshoe.
Also, two air purifiers have been placed toward the back of the public seating near the door and behind the horseshoe council member seating.
Procedures you need to know
Also, new procedures are in place for the next City Council meeting Tuesday that are meant to reduce grouping and keep track of those who enter City Hall for possible contact tracing later if necessary.
This is a list of new procedures and requirements at City Hall during the COVID-19 pandemic for meetings in the Council Chamber established by the Risk Management Office:
- Face coverings are required throughout the building. Disposable face masks are available upon entry.
- Only the south entrance to the building is open. A Police Department cadet conducts temperature checks and provides a color-coded wrist band. All other doors are locked, but can be used as an exit by pressing green “exit” buttons on the interior wall.
- Meeting attendees are required to sign a log for contact tracing purposes.
- ADA access doors to the Chamber will remain unlocked. Other Chamber doors are marked “entrance” and “exit.” The doors will remain open as much as possible.
- Air purifying machines are in the Chamber. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are available.
- Plexiglass barriers are in place around the horseshoe seating for the Council members, other officers and staff.
- Seating for up to 33 people is available in the gallery. Up to 3 people can sit in an open pew. Every other pew is taped off. Family groups may sit together and exceed the limit of 3 people per pew.
- If needed, overflow seating will be available in the lobbies on the third and second floors.
- The Chamber will be cleaned and sanitized daily.
- The press box is limited to 7 media members.
Visit covid19.okc.gov for the latest local information on the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are some views of the newly remodeled and up-equipped Council Chamber and measures to provide social distancing.
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