Having In-Person Council Meetings Means Opening Your Doors to the Public

May 10, 2021

When a quorum of city council members meets in person to conduct official business, members of the public must also be welcome to attend the meeting in person.

As city councils and other public bodies are considering returning to in-person meetings, the Data Practices Office (DPO) has reiterated the importance of strictly complying with the Open Meeting Law.

To hold a meeting via telephonic or other electronic means, the council must first determine that an in-person meeting is “not practical or prudent” because of the health pandemic or another emergency. When council members decide to gather in person for a council meeting, it negates any earlier determination that an in-person meeting is not “practical or prudent.”

Therefore, members of the public must also be able to attend the meeting in person. There are no provisions in the Open Meeting Law that allow council members to hold in-person meetings, while also limiting public attendance to electronic monitoring of the meeting.

Read DPO Advisory Opinion 21-003 interpreting this rule

Cities may continue to limit the number of people allowed to attend in-person meetings in accordance with the Governor’s executive orders. For up-to-date information, see Minnesota’s Stay Safe Guidance.

For more information about Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law, see the League’s informational memo, Meetings of City Councils.

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