After a brief return to City Hall, the Palo Alto City Council will be reverting to virtual-only mode next week in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 cases.
City Clerk Lesley Milton said the recommendation to a temporary shift back to virtual meetings was communicated by city staff to newly elected Mayor Pat Burt, who didn't have any objections. Milton then reached out to the entire council, asking if anyone was opposed to returning to virtual mode. No one was, Milton said in an email.
The move follows two months of "hybrid" meetings, which allowed in-person and virtual participation for council members, staff and members of the public. On most occasions, about two or three council members showed up in person for meetings, with the rest participating over Zoom. The exception was this week, when six of the seven council members attended the meeting to elect Burt as mayor and Lydia Kou as vice mayor (only Greg Tanaka participated remotely).
"The intent is to resume the hybrid style meetings by the end of January, once the numbers begin to decline," Milton said in an email.
The switch to virtual meetings is part of a broader push to curb the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Milton said the city also is "encouraging those that can work from home to do so, as long as service levels to the public can be maintained."
Unlike the council, the city's boards and commissions have been meeting remotely throughout the entire pandemic and will continue to do so until at least March under the council's current plan.