The federal courts are tackling the coronavirus threat, making scheduling changes, encouraging electronic filing, and restricting access to facilities, among other measures.
Follow the latest changes in court operations using our interactive map.
Note: This tracker is being discontinued due to declining Covid-19 case counts and re-openings across the federal judiciary. The tracker will no longer be updated and information will no longer be up-to-date after Feb. 23, 2022.
Read More: Bloomberg Law is tracking the latest updates about the pandemic on our coronavirus news channel.
Pandemic-Related Court Orders Wane
Posted: Feb. 23, 2022
Federal courts have eased up on publishing orders and restrictions related to Covid-19 as case counts continue to decline across the country.
The Western District of Virginia was among the courts issuing new guidance in the past week, rescinding its requirement that unvaccinated staff test for the virus weekly.
“As the court continues to monitor the current information about the Pandemic, it appears that because the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads regardless of vaccination status, there is no longer a bona fide need to require unvaccinated court staff to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing to protect staff and the public who enter the courthouses,” the court said in a Feb. 18 order.
The Southern District of Ohio similarly amended its Covid-19 protocols this week to announce that twice-weekly testing of unvaccinated workers remains discontinued.
Elsewhere in the country, the District of New Jersey extended its authorization for video and teleconference hearings for an additional 90 days.
More Courts Reopen as Pandemic Subsides
Posted: Feb. 16, 2022
Federal courts are relaxing Covid restrictions on in-court proceedings, public access, and mask requirements as conditions around the pandemic start to improve.
At least five courts have recently resumed or will resume in-person jury trials in mid February or March. The District of Utah and the Northern District of Ohio permitted resumption of jury trials as of Feb. 14, while the Central District of California will resume jury trials on Feb. 22. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Federal Circuit will resume in-person arguments on Feb. 22 and in March, respectively.
The District of Montana has opened courthouses to the public without a mask requirement, except for hearings before certain judges. At the same time, the Southern District of California will require masking only for those who are not fully vaccinated in indoor public settings beginning Feb. 16. The change reflects guidance from the California Department of Public Health, and the definition of “fully vaccinated” does not include booster shots.
Court Protocols Vary as Omicron Surge Declines
Posted: Feb. 9, 2022
Federal courts are approaching Covid-19 protocols differently as a surge caused by the omicron variant subsides. While some courts are restarting in person proceedings, others have pushed their precautions into March.
The District of Idaho now allows individual courthouses to operate on different protocols according to their local Covid risk levels, which are determined based on certain metrics the court lays out. The court’s Covid-19 committee will meet weekly to access the risk levels of each courthouse.
On Jan, 31, the Northern District of Illinois held its largest-ever naturalization ceremony with 472 new citizens at Chicago’s Auditorium Theater. Previous naturalization ceremonies during the pandemic were held outdoors or with limited participants.
But elsewhere, restrictions persist. The Ninth Circuit and D.C. Circuit renewed their orders to hold oral arguments virtually, and district courts across the country are continuing to suspend jury trials.
Although case counts have declined, the Western District of Washington said that the omicron surge hasn’t yet ended in the district. It extended its current restrictions, including a pause on in-person jury trials, for an additional 30 days until March 7.
The Eastern District of New York renewed its existing Covid-19 restrictions through February due in-part to high Covid-19 infection rates and low vaccination rates among prisoners.
The Northern District of Georgia also suspended all large, multi-defendant trials in all of its divisions through the end of March because its largest courtroom is being used for jury selection and isn’t available for large-scale trials.
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