Utah courthouses to require masks in counties with ‘moderate,’ ‘high’ transmission index

Photo: "Surgical Face Mask” by NurseTogether.com is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

UTAH, July 29, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah courthouses and courtrooms will require all patrons and personnel to wear a mask if the court is located in a county that has been designated as having a “moderate” or “high” transmission index by the Utah Department of Health, beginning Friday.

On May 21, the Chief Justice, on behalf of the Utah Judicial Council, issued an
administrative order ending the mask mandate in all courthouses, said a news release. On June 3, the Chief Justice issued an order authorizing state and justice courts to operate in the “yellow” phase of the court’s pandemic response plan which permits in-person hearings and jury trials.

The Utah Judicial Council continued to monitor the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recommendations of health experts, the news release said.

“The recent increase in cases is attributed to the Delta variant which health experts report is significantly more transmissible than the original strain of COVID-19.

“Studies have shown that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and fully vaccinated individuals are much less likely to contract or spread the virus.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now advising that all individuals who are located in “moderate” or “high” transmission index locations should wear a
mask when indoors.

“The judiciary continues to be in the unique position of having authority to compel individuals to attend court proceedings in person,” the news release said. “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. Now that the courts are operating in the ‘yellow’ phase, there will be an increase in the number of individuals who are compelled to come to the court, and the courts cannot assure these individuals that other people they may encounter in the courts are vaccinated.”

The mask mandate does not apply:

  • To a court located in a county that is designated by the Utah Department of Health as a “low” transmission index county.
  • To a witness while the witness is testifying or to other individuals in a courtroom if the judge determines that the temporary removal of a mask is necessary for identification.
  • If 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.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall signed an executive order Tuesday requiring both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees and members of the public to wear a mask inside city facilities.


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