NEW ORLEANS - Today, the Community Development Committee heard a central staff presentation requested by Council President Helena Moreno to reopen the Council's Chamber for in-person public meetings. The plan, approved by the City's Chief Health Officer, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, allows for a maximum capacity of 30-40 members of the public and requires face coverings for all attendees. Council Chambers has also been modified and outfitted with plexiglass safety barriers and social distancing mitigations to help protect attendees.
"The past year has been an extraordinary challenge that tested so many of our systems and upended so many lives. I'm excited by the opportunity to safely reopen the Chamber to give the public the chance to fully participate in our meetings and return some normalcy to our democracy here in New Orleans. I want to thank Dr. Avengo and our Council's Chief of Staff and his team for helping build a safe and thoughtful plan to bring the public back into their Council Chambers. I look forward to resuming in-person Council meetings on May 20," said Council President Helena Moreno.
"I have reviewed the plan and it is completely in keeping with the guidance that is currently in place in New Orleans for business rooms, meetings, and other events. With the enforcement of masking and flow, it is safe and Councilmembers will be safe as well their staff. As other cities who are in a similar situation who are returning, this dovetails to what is safe at the present time," said New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno.
In addition to limited seating, the plan also contemplates an outdoor overflow area behind chambers to allow for live viewing of public meetings on-site. Public comment will still be accepted online to accommodate the various comfort levels for in-person events throughout the population. The plan also provides for an ongoing "hybrid" meeting model to give outside participants the option of appearing via video conferencing to further limit in-person gathering.
Chief of Staff, Office of Helena Moreno