ST. PAUL — Face coverings are now required in Minnesota courtrooms and public spaces in a court facility effective Oct. 19, according to an order issued by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea.

“The Minnesota Judicial Branch continues to prioritize health and safety as we respond to the changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gildea said in a news release. “As we are seeing an increase in the positivity rates and hospitalizations across the state, our courts are taking prudent action to ensure access to justice while we safeguard the health of our judicial officers, staff, and all who enter a court facility.”

The Judicial Branch’s guidance that was issued on July 30 had authorized local decision-making by judges on whether to require the use of face coverings in their courtrooms or local court facilities.

Under the new order, face coverings must be worn in all courtrooms and public spaces in court facilities. Individuals should talk to court staff immediately upon entry if they do not have access to a face covering or have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing one.

Face coverings will be provided to individuals who do not have access to one. A presiding judge may direct people to remove face coverings as necessary to conduct court proceedings.

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Individuals are encouraged to stay home if ill and asked to self-screen for symptoms or exposure before entering a court facility. People exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 within 14 days of when they need to enter a court facility, are asked to contact the court or their attorneys rather than go to the courthouse.