-By Dan Bolin, partner at the law firm of Ancel Glink, P.C-
Bells that Can’t Be Unrung: Local Government Impacts from COVID-19 recording highlights the lasting effects COVID-19 will have on local governments.
What may be the lasting impacts of COVID-19 on our local governments?
In this recording from the Forward Together Virtual Conference speaker Dan Bolin, partner at the law firm of Ancel Glink, P.C, shares the changes that are likely here to stay for local governments as a result of COVID-19.
Bells That Can’t Be Unrung: Local Government Impacts (ELGL)
Remote Meeting Participation
During COVID-19, some emergency orders suspended physical presence requirements at meetings and local governments widely adopted rules and procedures for remote attendance and virtual meetings. Extended stay-at-home orders increased demand for public hearings on land use applications and other matters. A list of best practices for remote zoning hearings is available here.
While amendments to open meetings laws may be required, local officials and members of the public will expect remote participation in addition to physical attendance for local meetings after COVID-19.
Work from Home
Not many local government employees worked from home in the past, but work-from-home became necessary for many during COVID-19. This experience has employers increasingly accepting, and employees increasingly expecting, work-from-home in the future. This makes it increasingly important to adopt and implement a policy to facilitate working from home, while managing possible liability for the organization. Important tips on drafting a work from home policy are available here.
When restaurants and bars were closed for on-premises consumption, some states and local governments authorized on-premises-only liquor retailers to make package sales for off-premises consumption. Some states and local governments also authorized curbside and home deliveries that otherwise would not have been allowed. Many liquor retailers and consumers enjoyed these privileges and may support changes in state and local laws to continue these practices, as demand for pick-up and home deliveries could persist after COVID-19.
Some municipalities established curbside pick-up zones to facilitate social distancing for purchases from bars, restaurants, and retailers during COVID-19. Increased curbside pick-up from consumers and delivery drivers may continue after COVID-19. Local governments may continue to use curbside pick-up zones and other creative tactics to facilitate business.
Online services are essential as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. During a conference breakout session, a parks and recreation administrator discussed how their program instructors are hosting virtual exercise classes and hosting virtual story-time for young people. Residents will likely continue to expect many of their local government services to be available online after COVID-19.