The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an Order Thursday, July 9 requiring all persons entering a courthouse for the purpose of court-related business to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth. The face covering shall be worn at all times while in the building.
The Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court first issued an Order declaring a judicial emergency in the state on March 13. The emergency has been extended multiple times through additional Orders. The May 26 Order eased restrictions on in-person hearings, allowed for jury trials to begin after July 3, and allowed judicial districts to continue to operate under their approved plans. Today’s Order does not change those provisions and only adds a state-wide face covering requirement. The face covering requirement is effective Tuesday, July 14, and continues until further order of the Court.
“The recent uptick in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths required the Court to reconsider how to best keep the public, court staff, and judiciary safe while keeping courts as open and accessible as possible,” Chief Justice Jeff Bivins said.
The face covering requirement is consistent with directives from the Centers for Disease Control, the Tennessee Department of Health, and several Tennessee county mayors. The Order provides several exceptions, including for those under age 12 and individuals with a bona fide medical reason.
Face coverings are available for free or low cost at tnmasksupply.com. Courthouses are also coordinating with local Tennessee Emergency Management Agency offices to have masks available.