Southern District requiring federal courthouse visitors to wear face masks

All visitors and occupants of every Southern District of Indiana courthouse will be required to wear protective face masks, Chief Judge Jane Magnus Stinson announced in a Friday order.  Those who refuse could be found in contempt of court.

The general order was announced after a meeting with the majority vote of the facility security committees for the Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Indianapolis, the Lee H. Hamilton Federal Building and United States Courthouse in New Albany, the Winfield K. Denton Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Evansville, and the Terre Haute Federal Courthouse.

Anyone who wishes to enter or already occupies any of the Southern District’s federal courthouses must have face masks that completely cover the nose and mouth in all public spaces, the order says. Exceptions to the order may be made for individuals who provide documentation saying that they are unable, for medical reasons, to wear a face covering.

Additionally, all courtroom occupants must wear face coverings, unless excused by the presiding judge when necessary to the effective administration of a proceeding.

If an individual is employed by a federal agency that occupies any of the federal courthouses, that person may temporarily remove his or her face covering while in the space leased by the agency only while at their respective workstations, the order says, so long as the workstation permits social distancing of at least 6 feet from others. The same applies in other situations permitted by the wearer’s agency.

Visitors seeking to enter a federal courthouse without a face mask will be offered a disposable mask free of charge at the security screening checkpoint if they have a need to and are otherwise permitted to enter the courthouse. If they refuse to wear a mask, however, they will be denied entry.

Anyone who is found to have violated the order may be held in contempt of court, cited, and/or expelled from the courthouse.

All federal courthouses remain closed to the public, with the exceptions enumerated in the General Orders issued on June 5  and May 20.  Screening and other requirements set forth in the federal court’s March 20 and May 20 orders as well as any other general orders issued by the court remain in effect.

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