Indoor Gatherings and Association Meetings
We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy heading into the holidays and especially during the recent rise in COVID‑19 infections.
A lot of states are responding to the current spike in Coronavirus diagnoses by implementing more severe guidelines and restrictions. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are no different in this regard. Particularly, in recent days, we have seen limits placed on the number of people who can gather in one place instituted in all three states:
- On November 12, 2020, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, signed NY Exec. Order No. 202.74 (2020), which became effective on November 13th.
- On November 16, 2020, New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, signed NJ Exec. Order No. 196 (2020), which became effective on November 17th.
- While the State of Pennsylvania has not recently enacted any similar orders, on November 16, 2020, Philadelphia Mayor, James Kenny, signed Phila. Exec. Order. for Additional Safety Measures Fall/Winter 2020-21 (2020), which becomes effective on November 20th.
New York’s executive order decreases the number of individuals permitted at any non-essential, private, residential gathering to ten (10) or fewer individuals. For non-essential, indoor gatherings that are not private and residential, the number of individuals permitted is still limited to fifty (50) people or fewer, providing the indoor area does not exceed fifty percent (50%) capacity.
New Jersey’s executive order also changes the number of individuals who are permitted at a gathering. Previously gatherings were limited to twenty-five percent (25%) of a room’s capacity, with an upper limit of twenty-five (25) people, and a lower limit not smaller than ten (10) people. Now, gatherings are strictly limited to ten (10) people per room. The order does exempt gatherings for “religious services or celebrations, political activities, wedding ceremonies, funerals, or memorial services,” which are limited to twenty-five percent (25%) of a room’s capacity, with an upper limit of 150 people, and a lower limit of not smaller than ten (10) people. Importantly, the executive order defines “room” to include the entirety of a private residence or a residential unit. In other words, only ten (10) people are permitted in a private home at a time.
Philadelphia’s order goes even further. It completely prohibits indoor gatherings in residences or other private, indoor locations, if those gatherings are between people from more than one household. It does, however, provide exceptions for: providing necessary care for family members, home-based construction, and government services.
- In New York, non-essential, indoor gatherings are limited to fifty (50) people, and non-essential, residential, indoor gatherings are limited to ten (10) people.
- In New Jersey, private, indoor gatherings are limited to ten (10) people per room; residential, indoor gatherings, are limited to ten (10) people per residence; and certain religious or political activities are limited to twenty-five (25%) of a rooms capacity, but no more than 150 people and a lower limit of not smaller than (10) people.
- In Philadelphia private, indoor gatherings of people who live outside the same household are banned.
These orders have immediate impact on citizens New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Despite the obvious impact these orders will have on upcoming holiday celebrations, they will also affect any upcoming association meetings or elections. If any community association has planned an in-person election or meeting in the coming days, weeks, or months, those plans will have to be urgently changed.
Any in-person meeting of the members, board meeting, or committee meeting that violates any of the above executive orders will either need to be rescheduled or, preferably, switched to an online format. While rescheduling may be an option for some communities (depending on that community’s bylaws and any statutes on-point), it will be difficult to guess when these executive orders will no longer be in effect. Instead, it is wise that communities immediately start ensuring that all meetings going forward are arranged so that they are held online.
Committees and boards can discuss plans via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Ballots can be mailed to the association then counted by a limited number of people who are visible on camera. Members can discuss the future of a community without interacting in person. This is important not just for the safety of each community association, but also important to ensure that these communities are following all applicable laws.
If your association needs to make urgent changes to accommodate these new rules, we at Griffin Alexander, P.C. can help. We routinely assist in setting up virtual meetings for our clients, including planning large-scale elections and meetings for community associations held through Zoom.
The information in this Client Alert is provided solely for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice on any specific matter and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular circumstances. Each legal matter is unique, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
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