COVID-related remote meeting, outdoor dining deadlines extended

Photo courtesy of The Snug

May 26, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer

All remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted this Saturday, May 29, "which means that all [businesses and] industries will be permitted to reopen, capacity will increase to 100 percent, and the state’s gathering limit will be rescinded," Asst. Town Administrator Michelle Monsegur told the Selectmen last night. This is in accordance with new guidelines announced by Gov. Charlie Baker this week.

Although the State of Emergency will end June 15, Baker filed legislation to extend certain emergency measures that are set to expire on that date related in part to holding remote meetings and outdoor dining that was permitted under an expedited process due to the pandemic.

The bill the governor filed will extend provisions related to the Open Meeting Law until September 1, 2021, "which will allow additional time for the state to consider possible permanent changes to the OML to provide for greater flexibility in conducting open meetings through platforms such as Zoom," according to Monsegur.

The bill, if passed, also grants communities the authority to extend special permits for restaurants offering outdoor dining issued under the State of Emergency through November 29, 2021, rather than the earlier permit expiration date of 60 days after the end of the State of Emergency.

"We'll be putting together some guidance for restaurants that would like to continue offering outdoor dining, working with the town's Restaurant Reopening Group," Monsegur said.

The bill filed by the governor will also extend a protection that prohibits medical providers from billing patients who have received COVID-related emergency and in-patient services for charges in excess of costs paid by their insurers. "As filed, the protection would extend until January 1, 2022," Monsegur said.

In related COVID Hingham news, non-vaccinated individuals are advised to continue wearing face masks and practicing social distancing "to help protect themselves and others from COVID-19," Monsegur stated in her report.

The Town Hall and the Senior Center will return to full in-person staffing next Tuesday, June 1. "We anticipate reopening the building to the public shortly thereafter," Monsegur said.

The Hingham Public Library will reopen to the public beginning June 1. Hours of operation will be Monday through Thursday and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with no capacity or time-limit restrictions. "Evening hours and in-person programming will resume at later dates," according to Monsegur.

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