Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
More than two years after COVID-19 upended in-person public meetings, towns around the state are increasingly returning this spring to indoor town meetings, with fewer pandemic-related provisions.
In an online forum used by members of the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association, more than 30 town managers recently shared their communities’ town meeting plans. The vast majority of those who responded expect to hold in-person meetings indoors and on time this year.
Of the communities that responded, only a few, including Harvard and Truro, have plans for outdoor town meetings. Lexington decided to stick to its plan for a virtual Town Meeting, which began on March 28.
A few towns have postponed their meetings by a few days or weeks, but most communities that responded said they remain on schedule. For the indoor meetings, some towns are still spreading out into multiple rooms, or holding the meetings in larger venues than usual, to provide some level of distancing.
Marshfield will hold its Town Meeting on April 25 in the high school gym with open windows and fans. Concord’s May 1 meeting will use several spaces within its high school. Acton plans to spread out its May 16 meeting for the comfort of attendees.
“We will offer two large rooms to offer spacing options for those who want it,” wrote Mark Hald, Acton’s assistant town manager.
Leaders from several communities — including Auburn, Foxborough, Nantucket, Sharon and Wilmington — described their meetings as being mask-optional, while Weston said that masks will be encouraged.
A few managers acknowledged the possibility that their town’s plans could change depending on COVID and the more-contagious BA.2 variant that is now the most common COVID strain in the United States. Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said his town is planning an in-person, indoor Town Meeting on April 25, but with a caveat.
“We are also preparing for the possibility of it moving to virtual,” he wrote, “depending on the trajectory of the BA.2 variant.”