Federal courts in Maryland are closing to the public starting Nov. 16 for at least two weeks as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the region.
Chief Judge James K. Bredar issued an order Wednesday saying that no members of the public, attorneys, prosecutors, witnesses or other court users will be allowed to enter any courthouse in the state without prior permission. The two courthouses are in Greenbelt and Baltimore.
Court employees will be permitted to enter the building if they have permission from their supervisor, according to the order. However, if the individual has tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 within the past 14 days, has any symptoms or has traveled out of the country recently they will not be allowed in the building.
The public will still be able to access drop boxes at the entrance of courthouses to deposit and date-stamp papers between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Bredar said he will review the restrictions on a “regular” basis to determine if conditions have improved. Before the latest order, courts were having some in-person proceedings, including a few jury trials.
Maryland has seen eight consecutive days with at least 1,000 virus cases, extending a pandemic record for the third straight day. The state also reported 16 new deaths on Wednesday, its highest daily total since late July.
Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that state is entering “the danger zone” with the virus. He announced stricter virus-related regulations on restaurants and a new travel advisory for states with high rates of infection. Maryland is now “strongly” recommending against indoor gatherings of more than 25 people.