PARSIPPANY — On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a Pandemic. A pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide and affecting a large number of people”. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus, which is spread mainly from person-to-person.
Shortly after the WHO announcement, Governor Murphy implemented Executive Order No. 104, announcing “Aggressive Social Distancing Measures to Mitigate Further Spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey”. New Jersey basically came to a stand-still.
There is still currently no vaccine to prevent the disease, and for the past six months, restrictions have been rather severe. Those restrictions have been slightly loosened, but not much. As of September, indoor gatherings must be limited to 25 people or 25% of a room’s capacity – whichever number is lower. All attendees at indoor gatherings must wear face coverings and stay six feet apart.
Because of the Pandemic and the Governor’s mandate, in the interest of public health and safety, all Township Council meetings have been virtual. We still have a virtual public portion at each meeting that allows all members of the public to speak, so no-one is deprived of their right to speak.
Is it now time to return to in-person Township Council meetings? If we did, under the latest mandate, the (5) Township Councilmembers, the Township Clerk, Attorney, Mayor, Business Administrator, and the Chief Financial Officer would take up the Dias and the first two rows in the front. That would leave room for approximately (19) visitors. Any more than that and we would have to cancel the meeting. I have no problem going back to public meetings, however, the Council majority has opted to err on the side of caution and remain virtual for the month of October.
If in the meantime, the Governor opens the State completely, The Township Council would immediately go back to public meetings.
Michael J. dePierro