Face coverings will be required for all employees and visitors in Minnesota district and appellate court facilities next week under an order issued Tuesday by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea.
Beginning Monday, visitors should bring their own masks to wear while in any of the state’s 105 court facilities, Gildea said. Those who don’t have masks or have medical conditions that prevent them from wearing them should immediately speak with court staff upon entering, she wrote, adding that visitors who do not have access to a face covering will be provided one.
Requiring face coverings will allow for the continued safe, methodical expansion of court proceedings, the judge wrote. In support for her decision, she cited a public opinion survey by the National Center for State Courts released in June that found 70% of respondents would be more comfortable in a court facility where masks were required.
The chief justice also asked that visitors self-screen before coming to the courthouse. She said those who have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 within 14 days of a court date should contact their attorney rather than go to the courthouse.
She said visitors should self-screen for symptoms including chills, cough, muscle pain, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, or new loss of taste or smell.
The judiciary is in a phased reopening with facilities opened on a limited basis for in-person access. Some counties require appointments or additional conditions for entry.
A few counties already have begun jury trials, and jurors are provided masks by the courts. The first jury trial in Hennepin County resulted in quarantine for Judge Kerry Meyer because one of her clerks tested positive for the virus.