On March 23, 2020, Governor Holcomb issued a stay-at-home Executive Order (20-08) for all residents of Indiana in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus also known as COVID-19. The Order mandates that unless you are conducting an “essential activity” or are employed by an “essential business,” you must remain at your residence. While this may seem overwhelming at first, many activities are still permitted, and numerous businesses continue to operate. This article will help explain the Executive Order, distinguish “essential” from “non-essential” activities and business, and discuss how condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations should continue to operate.
What is an Essential Activity and how does this affect Associations?
Indiana residents may engage in activities essential to health and safety. This means that you can take the dog for a walk, leave your home to care for a family member, seek medical attention, and visit a grocery store. Those taking part in essential activities should adhere to the social-distancing rule and maintain six feet of distance from others. The Executive Order prohibits gatherings of more than ten people; however, gatherings of this size are permissible if it relates to a family function or involves household members.
For many condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations, it is the time of year to conduct annual meetings. It is unlikely that an annual meeting will have less than ten people. If you are able to postpone the meeting in accordance with the governing documents, that is the best option. If postponing the meeting is not feasible, community associations are encouraged to utilize online platforms to hold the meetings. Websites such as Zoom or Go-To-Meeting allow members from the community to attend from the comfort of their homes while still being able to ask questions through the virtual platform.
The following business categories are defined as essential: 1. Healthcare and public health operations; 2. Human services operations; 3. Essential governmental functions; and 4. Essential infrastructure. There are a wide range of businesses that fall under these categories. Simply put, businesses that are required to maintain the status quo such as grocery stores, gas stations, transportation services, financial institutions, medical treatment facilities, and critical trades (including, but not limited to construction, engineering, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing) are permitted to operate.
From an association perspective, boards should continue to maintain the community. This means that vendors and government personnel will continue to perform trash pickup, maintain common areas, and perform important work such as electrical or HVAC services. The Executive Order also allows laundromats to remain open. Associations that have a laundromat within the community should ensure members still have access to the facilities, while making certain that they are subject to heightened cleaning and disinfection.
What does the Executive Order mean for Associations?
Associations should attempt to operate in a “business as usual” fashion. The Executive Order does not prohibit boards from carrying out their duties nor does it prohibit contractors and vendors from performing necessary services regarding safety, maintenance, managerial matters, engineering, and sanitation. In no event should a board member take on the responsibility of a vendor and attempt to provide a service that is unfamiliar. It is important that vendors and contractors abide by the Executive Order and maintain the proper social distancing requirement of six feet. Everyone should follow sanitation and hygiene protocols established by public health professionals.
As mentioned above, caution must be used when determining how to conduct official business and meetings. Any decision on this matter should be brought to the association’s attorney to ensure that the association is in compliance with the governing documents.
The Executive Order is in effect from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 2020 until 11:59 p.m. April 6, 2020. However, Governor Holcomb may rescind or extend the Order.
If KSN can answer any legal questions or assist your board, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. Please call 855-537-0500 or visit www.ksnlaw.com.
Since 1983, KSN has been a legal resource for condominium, homeowner, and townhome associations. We have four office locations, serving hundreds of clients and thousands of communities throughout Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our attorneys are also licensed in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri.
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