TALLAHASSEE — Public governmental boards will be required to return to in-person meetings by Nov. 1, under a new order by Gov. Ron Desantis.

On Wednesday, DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-246, as part of the state of Florida’s Phase plan for recovery from COVID-19 pandemic. The order provides local government bodies with an additional one-month period to conduct their meetings virtually.

“Local government bodies should prepare to meet in person as required by Florida law beginning Nov. 1,” DeSantis said in a press release.

DeSantis originally issued an order on March 1 giving governmental bodies the ability to hold virtual meetings, paving the way for a shut-down or partial shut-down of governmental buildings.

Since then, the Venice City Council has met remotely — strictly remotely at first, then later opening up Council Chambers to the public. But until Thursday, only one council member, Joe Neunder, had attended a meeting in person in Council chambers since City Hall reopened. He did so twice.

Council members Rich Cautero, Mitzie Fiedler, Joe Neunder and Nick Pachota were in chambers for a workshop Thursday, with Mayor Ron Feinsod, Vice Mayor Chuck Newson and Council Members Helen Moore participating remotely.

Council members reached a consensus at the workshop on adding a provision to the city code to allow attendance by vidoe teleconference. A quorum of members — four or more — would still need to be present at the designated meeting place.

State foreclosure, eviction relief lapses

DeSantis also permitted Executive Order 20-211 to expire. The order had provided a limited one-month extension of state eviction relief to persons affected by the COVID-19 emergency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently enacted a nationwide residential evictions order that provides federal eviction relief to persons who submit a valid declaration to their landlord regarding their inability to pay rent.

The order pertaining to the state’s mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief was permitted to expire to avoid any confusion over whether the CDC’s evictions order should apply in a particular circumstance, DeSantis said.

The CDC’s evictions order expires Dec. 31 unless extended.


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