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Barbera announces mask order for most of state’s courthouses, judicial offices

Maryland Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera Friday announced that, beginning Aug. 9, masks would be required for all, regardless of vaccination status, in courthouse and judicial branch facilities in any Maryland county or Baltimore city where COVID-19 community transmission rating is rated by the CDC as “high” or “substantial.”

Additionally, under Barbera’s administrative order, masks shall be required in state courthouses and judicial facilities for a 14-day stabilization period upon a return from “high” or “substantial” to “moderate” or “low” transmission levels.

The only exception to the mask requirement is for children aged 2 and under, according to a news release from the Maryland Judiciary.

Barbera’s order would apply to most of Maryland. As of Aug. 5, all of the state’s 23 counties — except Carroll, Garrett, Howard and Queen Anne’s — plus the city of Baltimore have transmission levels rated as substantial or high, according to data posted on the Centers for Disease Control website Saturday afternoon.

“Due to the recent updates to the CDC guidance on mask wearing and other health and safety precautions, the Maryland Judiciary is revising COVID-19 health measures to protect those who visit or work in the state courts and judicial facilities to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the community,” Barbera said. “As the new CDC protocols include wearing masks indoors outside of the home, regardless of vaccination status, in counties of “substantial” or “high” transmission levels, the Judiciary is adhering to these measures to ensure that we continue to protect, as much as possible, the health and safety of all who use the courts and court services, as well as the judges and Judiciary personnel.”

As before the pandemic, the filing date for any court filing by mail, effective June 1, 2021, is the date the filing is stamped, according to the news release.

All courts in Maryland are fully operational with the resumption of jury trials in criminal and civil cases in circuit courts statewide.