Alaska courts require face coverings regardless of vaccine status

The Dimond Courthouse in Juneau on Feb. 27, 2017. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)
The Dimond Courthouse in Juneau on Feb. 27, 2017. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Face coverings are now required for every visitor to a state courthouse, regardless of vaccination status.

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree issued the latest order on Tuesday, reversing a previous order relaxing the use of masks in state court facilities. 

Winfree writes that masks are necessary because of increased COVID-19 case counts and the prevalence of the more contagious delta variant throughout the state. Also, he refers to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which shows that fully vaccinated people can spread the Delta variant just as fast as non-vaccinated people.

Some exceptions to the mask-wearing rule include children under two years of age or someone who has a mental or physical disability that prevents them from wearing a mask.

In addition to masks, courthouses may resume screening visitors for possible infection and making them sign in.

Winfree’s order is in addition to other health precautions ordered by the presiding judge in each region. For example, Juneau Superior Court Judge Amy Mead suspended criminal jury trials and grand jury proceedings until at least the end of August in every major courthouse in Southeast Alaska. That’s because of high case counts and elevated risk levels in communities in the region.

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