Although they have largely returned to in-person meetings in a revamped county boardroom, county supervisors unanimously re-adopted an emergency governing ordinance Sept. 15.
The boardroom shows the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic—the dais has been extended to either side to let supervisors sit farther apart, with transparent barriers between each seat to further isolate them. Meanwhile, to maintain social distancing most of the county staff members who support the meetings participate over video feeds, often from other offices in the same building, rather than risk crowding the boardroom.
Supervisors first adopted the emergency ordinance on March 25, relaxing many deadlines and rules on the county government such as how quickly it must respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, or that a quorum of members must be physically present to conduct board business. Loudoun Now has not so far seen any actual slowing of responses to FOIA requests, although early in the pandemic supervisors skirted the rules for emergency meetings, using those emergency meeting to conduct routine business such as passing ceremonial resolutions.
At the same time, County Administrator Tim Hemstreet began encouraging many county staff members to work from home, a practice that continues.
Many other county advisory commissions and boards continue to meet remotely, however, particularly those with larger membership. The ordinance will be in effect for 60 days unless rescinded sooner. After 60 days supervisors must decide whether to adopt it for a third time.
Virginia remains in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing counties to take budget actions and adopt ordinances they normally could not.