Whitehall City Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at Whitehall City Hall, 360 S. Yearling Road -- but the meeting is not open to the public.

The gathering "will not be physically open to the public as a social distancing precaution,” according to the city of Whitehall's Twitter feed.

A live stream of the meeting can be viewed on the city’s Facebook page, and the video will be posted to the city's YouTube channel afterward, according to the city's Twitter account.

The agenda, as of late Monday morning, March 16, did not indicate any discussion or action relative to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has made a battery of orders over the past few days, including the closure of public schools in Ohio through April 3 and the closure of restaurants and bars for indoor service through an unspecified date, to contain the spread of the virus.

On March 13, Ohio Attorney General David Yost wrote to elected officials that, in keeping with DeWine’s state order prohibiting gatherings of greater than 100 people, “we are now presented with a situation in which a public body might not be able to comply with both the terms of the order and the Open Meetings Act. Stopping the business of government is not an option and we must now reconcile the two.”

Yost wrote local officials can meet in a telephone conference or virtual call, but that the public must be able to hear all discussions and deliberations, and if any officials’ connections are dropped, the meeting must be suspended until it is restored.

As the business of government must continue, “it is reasonable to read the OMA’s 'in person' requirement as permitting a member of the public body to appear at a public meeting via teleconference,” Yost wrote.

Megan Meyer, community affairs manager for Whitehall, said the decision to publicly close the Whitehall City Council meeting is in keeping with the state’s directives and advice.

“In line with the statement issued by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, the city of Whitehall is following Gov. DeWine’s mandate to limit public gatherings during this state of emergency so as to limit the spread of COVID-19. As recommended in the statement, the city of Whitehall’s voting council meetings will be live-streamed to Facebook and posted to YouTube following the meeting."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com
@ThisWeekCorvo