Gov. Roy Cooper has lifted North Carolina's COVID-19-related state of emergency on Aug. 15.
In a July 11 press release, Cooper said the new state budget allows the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to have the same pandemic response flexibility as it had under the state of emergency.
Some of the aforementioned powers include waiving rules for beds in nursing homes to expand capacity and allowing ambulances to continue having one emergency medical technician on board instead of two.
Locally, the state of emergency's expiration has consequences outside of public health,
including changes to regulations on how councils and other governing bodies are able to meet.
According to Chapel Hill Town Council member Adam Searing, the council will begin meeting in person following the expiration — something they had not done since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We have a lot of controversial decisions we're considering and I think being able to see how many people are interested in these decisions in person and hear from people in person really makes a difference,” he said. “I think it’s really time to get back to that.”
Due to state law, Searing said, councils are prohibited from holding “hybrid” meetings — meetings where some members are physically present, while others are attending remotely through a service such as Zoom.
Searing added that smaller subsidiary committees may want to keep meeting either completely virtually or in a hybrid format. He said such committees are not limited by state law in the same way that councils are and are permitted to hold virtual or hybrid meetings.
According to Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, boards and commissions will continue meeting remotely for now while the Town works on hybrid models going forward.