Due to health concerns over the coronavirus, the cities of Atlanta and Sandy Springs are joining countless other municipal governments across the state by hosting their upcoming city council meetings via live-streaming video with council members participating either from City Hall or remotely by phone.
Both cities announced their decisions in news releases emailed to the media March 14. Their moves came a day after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a statewide public health emergency.
All of Sandy Springs’ facilities, including City Hall at the City Springs complex and its separate municipal court facility, will be closed to the public “until further notice,” its release stated. The city’s emergency management team will report as scheduled, but other staff members will telework as planned under its pandemic continuity of operations plan.
Though Sandy Springs’ buildings will be closed, city business will continue to be conducted with employees working via remote locations. Individuals are asked to use the city’s online channels and call center (770-730-5600) for assistance in doing city business. If items require in-person communication, contact your city representative related to the matter for instructions.
At the council’s meeting March 17 at 6 p.m., the mayor, council members and city staff will be at City Hall but the public will not be allowed in. residents can make public comments via email by visiting //sandyspringsga.gov/government/public-meetings-calendar.
In Atlanta, the city council meeting originally set for March 16 at 1 p.m. at City Hall has been moved to March 17 at 10 a.m. through remote access. It was moved in response to the city’s telework protocol activated for nonessential workers at City Hall. Council members will cast votes electronically while communicating via a phone bridge.
The council meeting will replace the mock meeting that was previously set for that time. Media and the public can access the live meeting using the conference bridge by dialing 1-877-579-6743 and entering ID number 8315991256. The meeting will follow the standard agenda order but will not include proclamation presentations.
Residents can email public comments to email@example.com. Messages received via email for public comment will be acknowledged as received during the council meeting, distributed to council members and included in the meeting minutes. Email messages will be received for public comment up to 30 minutes before the meeting’s start.
March 15, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared a state of emergency for the city, saying it would implement its telework strategy starting the following day, according to a message posted to its website. On that day, all city facilities, including City Hall and the Atlanta Municipal Court, would be closed to the public. The center of hope locations, however, will be open weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. to provide meals for children enrolled it after-school programs.
“Essential city services, including emergency services and trash pickup, will remain operational,” the city stated.
In an interview with WSB-TV, Bottoms said the emergency declaration includes banning crowds of 250 or more.