May 19, 2021
Updated: Open Public Meetings and the COVID-19 Emergency
Governor Inslee and legislative leaders temporarily waived certain requirements of the Washington State OPMA for all governing bodies in the state subject to the OPMA.
Using emergency powers to provide for the functioning of government during the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Inslee and legislative leaders temporarily waived certain requirements of the Washington State Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) for all governing bodies in the state subject to the OPMA. Under the current Proclamation, public agencies are required to offer a remote option for public meetings. In addition, public agencies located in counties in Phase 2 or Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery Plan, are permitted to offer an in-person option for meetings, in addition to providing the required remote meeting options.
The OPMA restrictions remain in effect until the Governor ends the state or emergency, unless rescinded. On May 13, 2021, Governor Inslee announced that the state is moving toward full reopening on June 30, and that all counties in Washington will move to Phase 3 from May 18 until June 30. On May 13, Governor Inslee also announced that Washington has adopted the Center for Disease Control’s (“CDC’s”) new guidance lifting face mask and social distancing requirements for vaccinated people in most settings. We currently are awaiting guidance from state and local officials about how the CDC’s new face mask rules will be implemented in Washington.