Directive COVID-19 Pandemic; Health Safety Protocols for Members of the Public Entering Courthouses (Revised)
Table of Contents
COVID-19 Pandemic; Health Safety Protocols for Members of the Public Entering Courthouses (Revised)
- This Directive updates health safety protocols for members of the public to enter or remain in a courthouse. These requirements apply to litigants, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, law enforcement personnel, vendors, contractors, media, all other members of the public, as well as non-court personnel whose workplace is in a courthouse whenever they are in the courthouse but outside of their immediate place of work. This Directive is based on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Third Order Regarding Public Access to State Courthouses and Court Facilities but has been revised to include current Center for Disease Control (CDC) and medical guidance. This directive supersedes the directive of the same title issued on July 29, 2020 and is effective upon receipt.
- All members of the public over the age of two are required to wear a mask or cloth face covering to gain access or to remain within a courthouse. While members of the public are expected to use their own mask, the Security Department shall maintain a supply of disposable masks at the public entrance that can be issued to court visitors if they do not possess one. Any member of the public who states they cannot wear a facemask for medical reasons will be referred to the appropriate courthouse Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator for resolution of the matter.
- Prior to a member of the public initiating the security screening process court officers and/or associate court officers conducting screening duties will ask court visitors the following health questions:
- Have you, someone you live with, or someone you’ve had close contact1 with tested positive for or been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- Are you currently experiencing, or have experienced within the last three days symptoms of COVID-19?2
- Have you been advised to quarantine by a health care provider within the last 14 days?
- Are you required to quarantine under the Governor’s Order3 for travelers arriving in Massachusetts?
- Officers are advised that not all travelers from out of state locations are affected by this Order. Current lower risk states where travel to Massachusetts is permitted without quarantine or COVID-19 testing can be found at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order#lower-risk-states-. Persons having traveled from states identified as low risk are not excluded from entry into a courthouse.
- Are you awaiting COVID-19 test results?
- In the event an affirmative response is provided to question (e) the officer will ask if the test was sought in response to experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or having been in close contact with someone that was. Only persons meeting either of these criteria will be excluded from the courthouse in accordance with these procedures.
- Following satisfactory completion of the health screening questions an officer will use a handheld infrared thermometer, or other provided IR technology, to take the individual’s body temperature.
- Persons answering yes to any of the questions in paragraph 3, presenting with a body temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or refusing to complete the health screening shall be denied access to a courthouse and the person will be encouraged to seek medical guidance. In those instances where an elevated body temperature (EBT) is the sole reason for denial of entry, retesting should be conducted after at least 10 minutes to confirm the EBT. In cases where a court user is denied entry the appropriate clerk’s office or other intended destination will be directly informed in order to avoid default or other adverse action against the individual. In addition, the person shall be advised to personally contact his/her attorney, the clerk’s office, or the intended destination (i.e. probation or other office) themselves to resolve or reschedule the matter. A courthouse phone listing will be maintained at the entry screening station to facilitate this process. The identity of any person denied entry into a courthouse due to a positive response to a health screening question or EBT will be entered into the log book maintained at the entry screening station along with the date and time of the incident, the name of the reporting officer, and a contact telephone number for the individual if compliant.
- Officers operating infrared thermometers or other issued IR technology shall familiarize themselves with operation of the equipment by reviewing related training materials posted to the Learning Management System (LMS) or otherwise provided.