In the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit
of the State of Florida in and for
DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties
Administrative Order No. 2021–15.2
Face Mask Requirement
for All Unvaccinated Persons
Due to recent increased cases of COVID-19, in part due to the Delta variant, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided updated face mask guidance for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Between July 15th through 21st, 2021, Florida led the nation in new cases of COVID-19. According to the most recent Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report, 45,604 new cases were reported in Florida between July 9th through July 15th, 2021, averaging just over 6,500 new cases per day, as compared to averaging less than 1,500 new cases per day for the week beginning June 11, 2021, when there were 10,459 reported new cases. The most recently released data continues to show an alarming trend. On July 22, 2021, 12,647 new cases were reported in Florida, thereby increasing the weekly average to almost 9,000 cases per day. The most recent 14-day trend shows a 389% increase in cases in Manatee County, a 261% increase in cases in Sarasota County, and a 200% increase in cases in DeSoto County.
CDC guidance is that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, including severe illness and death, can reduce the risk of people spreading COVID-19, and are effective against variants of the virus that cause COVID-19, including the Delta variant . Additionally, people with weakened immune systems may not be protected even if fully vaccinated.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series (such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines), or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine).
For purposes of this administrative order, the terms “not fully vaccinated” and “unvaccinated” have the same meaning. Current CDC guidance is that if you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a face mask in indoor public places.
The health, safety, and well-being of courthouse visitors, court employees, and judicial officers are a high priority, and we must continue to take steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the courts, its participants and the general public. The following guidelines and requirements are established to protect public health and safety while fulfilling the court system’s responsibilities for the administration of justice.
In accordance with Article V, section 7, Florida Constitution, Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.215, and section 43.26, Florida Statutes, it is ordered and adjudged:
- Face masks must be worn by every person who is not fully vaccinated, including judges, upon entering the courthouse, with no exceptions.
- Face masks shall be worn by persons not fully vaccinated at all times while in the courthouse, including inside the courtrooms.
- Face masks should completely cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly around the nose, chin, and sides of the face, as recommended by the CDC. For their own comfort, everyone is encouraged to bring and wear their own face masks. If a person entering the courthouse does not have their own face mask, a disposable mask will be provided to them.
- Signs will be posted at all entrances, including non-public entrances, indicating that all persons who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face mask while in the courthouse. Prospective jurors who are not fully vaccinated who decline to wear a mask will be given the option of deferring their jury service. Any other unvaccinated person who refuses to wear a face mask will be denied entry to the courthouse.
- Judges and court staff who are not fully vaccinated do not have to wear a face mask in their private chambers or office as long as they are alone. If unvaccinated court staff do not have a private office, a face mask must be worn in their work area.
- Employees of other agencies whose office is in a private or secure area of the courthouse should follow face mask guidelines established by their agency or department head while they are working in their private or secure area; however, these employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face mask whenever they are beyond their private area in the courthouse, including all elevators, public areas, and stairwells.
- Fully vaccinated persons entering or working in the courthouse are not required to wear a face mask, however, they may wear one if they choose to.
- This Administrative Order is effective Monday, July 26, 2021, and will remain in effect through August 31, 2021 unless extended or rescinded by further order of this court.
Done and ordered in Chambers, Sarasota County, Florida, this 23rd day of July, 2021.
Charles E. Roberts
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