As we proceed through this time of uncertainty the best advice (legal or otherwise) we have to offer is to continue to exercise common sense. There are no health professionals at our office. It is important to continue reviewing updates from federal, state and local health departments.
One of the more prevalent health recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Illinois Department of Public Health is to practice “social distancing.” “Social distancing” includes the following:
- Maintain a distance of approximately 6 feet from other individuals;
- Avoid public gatherings and crowds;
- Do not engage in contact with others such as shaking hands;
- Remain at home as much as possible.
The greatest impact the social distancing recommendation will have on our community association clients concerns the use of common areas and attendance at meetings. Again, we encourage a common-sense approach.
Association clients should consider limiting or eliminating all unnecessary gatherings. This may, at the discretion of the board of directors, include temporarily closing public gathering spaces. Certainly, in the event someone within the community is diagnosed with COVID-19, the community should close public gathering areas such as a clubhouse or meeting rooms. Common entry ways, stairwells, parking garages, and elevators must remain open to provide access to residents, but it is recommended that cleaning protocols be increased during this period of time.
Further, residents who have either recently travelled abroad or been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 should self-quarantine and avoid all common areas. In the event the association or management becomes aware that someone has contracted the virus, we encourage the association to communicate this information to the other residents in a manner to protect the confidentiality of the resident. DO NOT communicate unconfirmed or unreliable information. DO NOT participate in gossip. Misinformation will not help in getting through this crisis. Before communicating any information to the residents, please consult with counsel.
Consider whether the board meeting or owner meeting is absolutely necessary. If the meeting is not necessary and can be postponed – PLEASE POSTPONE THE MEETING AND RESCHEDULE. There is no need to strictly adhere to annual meeting dates. The board will continue to serve until the meeting can be held.
Understanding both the Illinois Condominium Property Act and Common Interest Community Association Act provide “that every meeting of the board of managers shall be open to any unit owner,” we are encouraging our community association clients to temporarily consider redefining the term “open.” Typically, we would think of the term “open” as requiring a public gathering. Rather than encouraging public gatherings we are recommending our clients to make use of technology or phone conferencing to conduct meetings. Understand that notices will need to be revised, however, this should not stand in the way of practicing safety amongst the members. Under existing law, board members can already use technology to participate in meetings. Please review the “Use of Technology” sections in both acts at this time to make the best use of the means already provided. Again, seek counsel for additional guidance.
Finally, we encourage everyone to be patient with one another, use common sense and be cognizant that everyone is trying the best to navigate this unchartered territory. The information herein is offered as of its date of publication and it may continue to change as we progress through this time of uncertainty.