It didn’t take long for Utah Courts to respond to the latest update on mask wearing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.
Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant issued an order that requires patrons and court personnel to wear a mask if the court is located in a county that has been designated as a moderate or high transmission index county by the Utah Department of Health, beginning July 30, 2021.
That’s the day after the CDC updated their guidance for fully vaccinated individuals to include instructions for the fully vaccinated to read: “to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
That means if you’re going to court in Tooele County — bring your mask.
The order is in response to the CDC’s new recommendations and the sharp increase in Utah cases of the Delta variant and the increasing number of individuals who are compelled to come to court, according to Durrant.
“The judiciary continues to be in the unique position of having authority to compel individuals to attend court proceedings in person,” wrote Durrant in the administrative order.
Recently an unvaccinated court team member who did not know they had Covid-19 spread the virus to an individual who was compelled to attend court and to other team members, explained Durrant in the order.
With courts now holding in-person hearings and jury trials more people will be compelled to come to court.
“The courts cannot assure these individuals that other people they may encounter in the courts are vaccinated,” wrote Durrant.
Durrant approved some exemptions to the court mask mandate: courts in counties designated by the Utah Department of Health as a low transmission index county, witnesses while testifying or to other individuals in a courtroom if the judge determines that the temporary removal of a mask is necessary for identification or other similar purposes and court personnel are at their desk, not dealing with the public, and physically distanced from others.
Court personnel may also remove a mask when they are actively eating or drinking and physically distanced from others.
The Utah Department of Health lists nine counties that are categorized as low transmission according to their transmission index on their coronavirus.utah.gov website. Those counties are: Beaver, Daggett, Emery, Garfield, Grand, Kane, Puite, Rich and Wayne counties.
All other counties are either at the moderate or high transmission level by state standards.
“Throughout the pandemic the judiciary has consistently focused on the safety of court patrons and personnel,” wrote Durrant.