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New Castle County Council to meet in person starting next month

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Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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New Castle County Council meeting in-person before the coronavirus pandemic

New Castle County Council plans to return to in-person meetings at the end of next month. 

 

Council’s Personnel subcommittee passed a motion Tuesday to start holding all Council meetings in-person again August 31, after more than a year of meeting virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Measures of the coronavirus in Delaware are hovering at levels lower than they’ve been since the start of the pandemic. As of Tuesday, nearly 48% of all New Castle County residents were fully vaccinated, compared to just over 40% in Kent County and 51% in Sussex County. 

Still, Councilman Jea Street expressed concern over social distancing in the smaller room Council traditionally uses for committee meetings. 

“Second, in chambers, how are you going to social distance, because you can’t distinguish between who is and who isn’t vaccinated,” he said. “There’s an obligation to make a good-faith effort to protect the public.”

Council members suggested committee meetings could be held in the larger council chambers and that public seats could be blocked out to encourage distancing. 

Councilwoman Dee Durham suggested Council also look to amend the rules to keep an option for council members to participate in meetings virtually. A bill signed into law last month allows for this even after the Governor’s Emergency Order ends next week. 

“I would like the option of the hybrid access if for some reason I’m out of town or something like that, it would be nice to still be able to have the option—or if you’re not feeling well,”  she said. 

Other members echoed this idea. 

The Newark Post reports Newark City Council also plans to take advantage of the hybrid in-person and virtual meetings option, and approved the purchase of a $60,000 audio/video system for it, funded with federal stimulus dollars.

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