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. 2021–15a.2
Face Mask Requirement
for All Persons in Courthouses
The health, safety, and well-being of courthouse visitors, jurors, 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, while fulfilling the court system’s responsibilities for the administration of justice.
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. The CDC currently recommends that in order to reduce their risk of becoming infected with the Delta variant and potentially spreading it to others, all people should wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
The Florida Supreme Court has authorized the chief judge of each circuit in Florida, if warranted by local health conditions, to require the wearing of masks by all persons in a courthouse or in any portion thereof.
Between July 15th through 21st, 2021, Florida led the nation in new cases of COVID-19. According to a 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. In the most recent Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report, 73,199 new cases were reported in Florida between July 16th through July 22nd, 2021, averaging 10,457 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 upward trend in cases. The most recent 14-day trend shows a 300% increase in cases in Manatee County, a 287% increase in cases in Sarasota County, and a 129% increase in cases in DeSoto County.
The CDC, as of July 29, 2021, based on its data, has determined that the level of community transmission of COVID-19 is high in all three counties in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit.
In accordance with Article V, section 7, Florida Constitution, Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.215, section 43.26, Florida Statutes and In re: COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols and Emergency Operational Measures for Florida Appellate and Trial Courts, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC21-17, Amendment 1 (July 29, 2021), (July 29, 2021), in the interest of the health, safety, and well-being of all people entering the courthouse, and in order to reduce the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 in the courthouse, it is hereby ordered and adjudged as follows:
- Face masks must be worn by every person, upon entering the courthouse. Face masks shall be worn by all people while in any area of the courthouse accessible to the public (public area), and in all 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 must wear a face mask while in public areas of the courthouse. Prospective jurors who decline to wear a mask will have their jury service deferred to a later date. Any other person who refuses to wear a face mask as required by this order will be denied entry to the courthouse.
- 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 must wear a face mask whenever they are in a public area of the courthouse, including all public elevators and public stairwells.
- This Amended Administrative Order is effective Monday, August 2, 2021, and will remain in effect through August 31, 2021, unless modified, extended or rescinded by further order of this court based on updated health data.
Done and ordered in Chambers, Sarasota County, Florida, this 30th day of July, 2021.
Charles E. Roberts
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