Reminder on Meetings, Masks, and the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration
As we reported yesterday, Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration is now officially ended with the adoption of HR 106 and certification of the ballot questions that amended the Pennsylvania Constitution. The disaster declaration ending triggered the expiration of parts of Act 15 which means fully virtual meetings are no longer permitted by that law.
Act 15 of 2020 allowed all local government types to conduct fully virtual or teleconference meetings while the governor’s emergency disaster declaration was in effect. Since the disaster declaration has been terminated, townships of the second class should go back to pre-declaration conditions and conduct in-person or hybrid meetings. Hybrid meetings must have a physical meeting location where the public may attend in-person, as well as a virtual option, and supervisors may participate in-person or virtually. While some other local government codes have specific requirements for an in-person quorum, the Second Class Township Code does not have any such provisions. The Sunshine Law does require a physical meeting location for the public to participate.
In addition, as previously reported, the General Assembly passed and the governor signed Act 21 of 2021 (HB 854). This law extends, through September 30, 2021, the suspension of many regulatory statutes and orders, rules, or regulations put in place as part of the governor’s COVID-19 disaster declaration. This includes the mask order for unvaccinated individuals (which is expected to end no later than June 28) and many other orders that waived Department of Health and other regulations. As Act 15 of 2020 was an act of the legislature, not an order of the governor, it was not extended by Act 21 of 2021.