BOSTON, MA — The Supreme Judicial Court today issued an updated order regarding public access to Massachusetts state courthouses and court facilities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The order will go into effect July 13, 2020.
The SJC outlined that courthouses will physically reopen to the public for limited purposes, including some in-person proceedings, on July 13, 2020, but courts will continue to conduct most business virtually. The number of in-person proceedings will further expand during a second phase beginning on August 10, 2020.
The order issued today applies to (a) litigants, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, law enforcement personnel, contractors, vendors, media, and other members of the public when in or seeking entry to a Massachusetts state courthouse or other state court facility, including a probation office or a building that is temporarily being used for court proceedings (courthouse); and (b) non-court personnel whose place of work is in a courthouse (e.g., employees of a Registry of Deeds or the Social Law Library) whenever they are in the courthouse but outside of their immediate place of work.
When courthouses reopen on July 13, entry will be limited to persons attending in-person proceedings, persons conducting business with a clerk’s, register’s, or recorder’s office, persons meeting with probation, and persons conducting business at other open offices in the courthouses. Persons seeking to enter will be screened to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order outlines a specific screening protocol for those who wish to enter a courthouse.
Those prohibited from going into court facilities will include people who are not wearing face coverings, individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days, persons experiencing symptoms related to the virus within the previous three days and people waiting for coronavirus test results after showing symptoms or coming into contact with someone who has the disease.
Temperature checks will be applied to all wishing to enter the court facilities. If a temperature of 100 degrees or higher is registered, that person will not be allowed to enter.