More courts are requiring staff to get vaccinated or reinstituting mask mandates as the delta strain causes a spike in Covid-19 cases nationwide.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Los Angeles County Superior Court are both requiring employees to get vaccinated. The Los Angeles court, which is the largest trial court in the U.S., will require vaccines for its 4,600 employees no later than 45 days after the Food and Drug Administration gives final approval to at least one Covid-19 vaccine, according to a Thursday press release.
Employees in the Northern District of Illinois that refuse to comply will be required to wear a mask at all times, will have to undergo screening for the virus twice a week, and are banned from work-related travel.
“When members of the public enter the courthouse, they are entitled to be assured that the Court has made every effort to keep them safe from COVID-19,” the court’s chief judge, Rebecca Pallmeyer, said Aug. 3. The court said the new rule was “consistent with President Biden’s recent directive” that federal employees get the vaccine.
The Northern District of Illinois follows the District of Rhode Island, which said it would require its employees to be vaccinated in May.
The Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is mandating that lawyers arguing there must provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of when they are to appear.
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At least 23 more federal district courts are again requiring all entrants to the courthouse wear masks. The changes comes after courts across the country loosened restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals in the spring and summer, giving them the option not to wear masks.
The courts requiring all entrants, including vaccinated individuals, to again wear masks include the District of Vermont, Middle District of Pennsylvania, Western District of New York, District of Idaho, and Middle District of Georgia.
Several courts required masks for all entrants to its courthouses in areas where there is high Covid-19 transmission, including the District of Maine, Northern District of Indiana, and District of South Dakota.
For those courthouses not in high transmission areas in South Dakota that only require unvaccinated people to be masked, the court stressed the severity of lying about vaccination status.
“Anyone who falsely claims to be fully vaccinated and goes without a mask may be subject to contempt of court proceedings for violating this order,” Roberto Lange, chief judge of the South Dakota trial court, said in an Aug. 4 order.
—With assistance from Andrew Wallender and Jasmine Han
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