During the early months of COVID-19, governors in New England states issued executive orders allowing municipalities to meet online so long as the public could attend remotely. The democratic benefits of this arrangement quickly became evident. According to a public official quoted in a 2020 study, the changes “made it a lot easier for residents who have other things to do, to be heard. People with family obligations, elder care or child-care issues.”
The executive orders that prompted these changes, however, have long since expired. New England states have resorted to a patchwork of live streams, short-term remote meeting requirements, and in some cases, reverted back to pre-COVID policies and in-person meetings only.