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Charlottesville, Albemarle cancel some meetings, encourage virtual participation at others

Charlottesville and Albemarle County are reevaluating their public meetings, canceling some and moving several online amid coronavirus concerns.

No cases of the virus have been reported in either the city or county, according to data available Saturday evening from the Virginia Department of Health.

Following recommendations from the Thomas Jefferson Health District that gatherings of more than 100 people be avoided to limit spread of the virus, the city announced that it has canceled all but one of its public meetings of boards and commissions for the foreseeable future.

For the sole holdout — Monday’s City Council meeting — officials are discouraging the public from attending in-person, instead offering alternative means of participation.

The options are split between “view only” and a pilot “view and participate” option, with the former category spotlighting the already-in-use options of viewing the meets via Comcast Cable TC Channel 10, a livestream on the city’s website and a live broadcast via Facebook.

Those who wish to view and participate will be able to do so via an online webinar available on internet-connected devices.

According to a city news release, the council and the public will be able to see and hear community members who wish to be recognized during community matters and during public hearings on the budget and real estate tax rate.

A link to the webinar and access instructions will be shared Monday afternoon on the city’s website, charlottesville.org, and social media platforms.

No special advance sign-ups will be required for online participation in the public hearings. People who wish to participate in the community matters portion should sign up as normal. If someone who is signed up for community matters is participating via webinar, they will be connected to the meeting to speak.

Similarly, Albemarle County has revised its meeting and events schedule, canceling many but proceeding with all gatherings expected to draw fewer than 100.

According to a news release from the county, public meetings, events and recreation programs expected to have more than 100 attendees are being individually evaluated for how to proceed.

Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors work session has been moved to Lane Auditorium in the County Office Building from a smaller room to accommodate social distancing recommendations. Virtual participation also will be supported through the county’s website, albemarle.org, which will have a link to live video-streaming and a way to submit questions to be answered live at the meeting.

Town hall meetings for the Scottsville and White Hall districts will be held virtually, as will the Court Square Community Conversations event scheduled for Friday.

A Board of Supervisors town hall scheduled for Thursday has been cancelled.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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