LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The presiding judge of Los Angeles County's court system signed an order today requiring people to wear masks or face coverings inside courtrooms and other public areas of courthouses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The court must fulfill its statutory duties while safeguarding the well-being of the public it serves,'' Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile said in a statement released by the court.
The order requires people entering any courthouse or courtroom to wear a face covering, mask or face shield over his or her nose and mouth or face at all times within public areas of the courthouse.
Those who remove their masks or face coverings after entering a courthouse or courtroom will be reminded to wear them or will be asked to immediately leave the courthouse or courtroom, according to Brazile.
The order -- which goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect until further notice -- allows people whose disabilities preclude them from wearing a mask to seek an exemption under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Requests for such exemptions should be directed to the ADA liaison at each courthouse, with a list of the court liaisons available at its website at www.lacourt.org/ada/adahome.aspx.
Matters involving people exempted from wearing masks may be scheduled when fewer people are in the courtroom to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus.
The order also mandates at least six feet of physical distance from all people -- except those from within the same household -- at all times, along with use of hand sanitizer upon entering the courthouse, good hand-washing hygiene and covering coughs or sneezes.
Brazile noted that extensive measures had been taken as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to lower the number of people coming to county courthouses, including limiting the number of cases to be heard on any given day, directing prospective jurors to courtrooms instead of jury assembly rooms, implementing scheduled appointments for in-person transactions at courthouses and expanding its technology to allow attorneys and self-represented litigants to appear remotely through audio or video appearances in certain cases starting later this month.
Brazile ordered the courts to substantially scale back operations in mid-March to comply with state and county public health directives to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.
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