Effective on June 15, the Missouri Courts are ending their COVID-19 operational directives. The Supreme Court of Missouri released in a statement: “Given the decrease in the national and local levels of COVID-19 cases and the effectiveness and availability of approved COVID-19 vaccines, effective June 15, Missouri’s appellate and circuit courts—including all associate, family, juvenile, treatment, municipal, and probate divisions—no longer will be required to conduct court proceedings and courthouse activities pursuant to the previously prescribed operational phases and COVID procedures for jury trials.”
Courtroom procedures across the nation underwent numerous changes throughout the course of the pandemic all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. In March of last year, the Supreme Court released new rules and across the country these directives were adopted, but each state implemented its own phases. In April of 2020, The U.S. Supreme Court sent out a press release updating their COVID-19 protocols which stated: “In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely.”
These emergency protocols had been extended throughout the course of the pandemic, leading the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Oral Arguments via teleconference through May 4, while states like Missouri had moved on to later phase strategies that allow for increased in-person hearings as early as August of 2020.
Now, over a year since the start of the pandemic, The Supreme Court of Missouri is removing all COVID-19 requirements for in-person proceedings. In addition, they have advised: “Regardless of an individual employee’s vaccination status, judicial employees should return to work duties unless otherwise instructed by a supervisor. Supervisors should encourage employees to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Supervisors should make reasonable accommodations in the workplace for employees who remain more vulnerable to COVID-19. Courts should follow the CDC guidelines in determining whether an employee is required to quarantine following an exposure to someone who has COVID-19 or is suspected of having COVID-19. Judicial employees may resume travel for work-related functions, and court committees and commissions may resume in-person meetings.”
Tennessee and Kentucky have both already begun easing statewide COVID-19 restrictions in courtroom proceedings as well, and many other states are set to follow suit. These court systems will once again be serving the people more similar to how they did prior to the pandemic.