News Item
State Courts Modify Face Covering Guidance to Authorize Local Decision-Making

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2021

State Courts Modify Face Covering Guidance to Authorize Local Decision-Making

District court judges may require face masks in courtrooms and public spaces in court facilities

The Minnesota Judicial Branch today announced a modification to its guidance on face coverings in court facilities. District court judges may require face coverings in courtrooms and public spaces of court facilities.  
 
Throughout the pandemic, the Judicial Branch has based its decisions for courthouse operations on the guidance of public health experts, the status of virus transmission in the state, and local conditions.
 
“Our top priority is to ensure access to justice while protecting the health and safety of our judges, staff, and all who may enter a courthouse,” said Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea. “The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the continuing spread of COVID-19 and variants, require us to take this precautionary step.”
 
Under the new administrative order from Chief Justice Gildea, the chief judge of a judicial district may require face coverings to be worn in public spaces in courthouse facilities. In addition, a presiding judge, in consultation with the chief judge, may require individuals who participate in or attend an in-person proceeding to wear a face covering during the proceeding. These decisions will be made at the local level and can vary by county. For information about local requirements for face coverings in court facilities, Minnesotans may contact their county courthouse.
 
If a county in which a courthouse is located mandates the use of face coverings in county-owned buildings, the district court in that county will require the use of face coverings consistent with the county’s decision. Individuals may choose to wear face coverings in any court facility. Judges may direct people to remove face coverings as necessary to conduct court hearings.
 
The administrative order does not make any changes to the types of in-person court proceedings currently taking place. For more information, see the Judicial Branch COVID-19 webpage.