THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED May 6 4:12 PM
Following an order from Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday suspending all remaining local government COVID-19 restrictions, the Village of Key Biscayne will allow a limited number of people to attend its next council meeting May 6.
Mayor Mike Davey confirmed the change, but said he did not know how many spaces would be available. Attendees will be asked to wear masks, he said. The Village will still transmit the meeting up on Zoom so people who are more comfortable participating remotely may continue to do so, he said.
The sole order of business is approving a three-year, $195,000 employment contract with the new Village Manager, Steve Williamson.
Since November, the Key Biscayne Village Council has prohibited members of the public and the media from physically attending “hybrid” council meetings. Hybrid meetings are sessions that have at least four council members present with others on Zoom.
Over the course of the last two weeks, the Council has twice ejected Key Biscayne Independent Editor-in-Chief Tony Winton from Council chambers, prompting swift outcry from both the Florida chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists and the Florida First Amendment Foundation.
“The exclusion of the press violates not only the Sunshine Law, it also violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, by infringing on the freedom of the press,” the First Amendment Foundation wrote.
Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Commission fully opened its chambers to the public. Members of the Commission were masked as were speakers and members of the public.
The Village Council ban on press was maintained despite a November 2020 order from DeSantis ending virtual meetings. He ordered government agencies to begin meeting in person again.
You can see video of Winton’s ejection from the April 27 meeting here
Read the letter from the First Amendment association here
Read the letter from the Society of Professional Journalists here