The Orange County Superior Court has reinstated its mask policy, requiring all visitors to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, after two people inside the building tested positive for COVID-19.
The Santa Ana, California, courthouse’s order took effect July 26 and will remain in place until at least Aug. 6.
“All persons entering the Central Justice Center, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face mask at all times in the public areas of the Central Justice Center, including courtrooms,” said the order, signed by the court’s assistant presiding Judge Maria Hernandez.
“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution, as the court was recently notified of two positive COVID-19 test results at the facility. Our focus remains the safety and health of our judicial officers, employees, justice partners, and our community.”
The order applies to court employees, law enforcement officers, attorneys, parties, jurors, and vendors, the order states.
Refusal to cooperate will result in a warning followed by a security escort from the building, according to the order. Children under three years of age are exempt.
Orange County Superior Court spokesman Kostas Kalaitzidis said that while two cases of COVID-19 is a low threshold, they’re trying to ensure that there’s no outbreak.
“We’re part of the community, we’re not just some set-aside organization, we’re part of the living body of Orange County, and it is our responsibility, it’s not just us trying to be nice, it’s our responsibility to follow the regulations of Cal OSHA, the Orange County Health Care Association and CDC,” he said.
The Central Justice Center is the second Orange County courthouse to revert to its previous mask mandates; the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach on July 14 did the same after two people in the building tested positive for COVID-19, with its mandate set to end July 28 if there are no further cases.
Prior to the mask mandates going into place, those entering the Central Justice Center who were fully vaccinated could go mask-free in the building. For the unvaccinated, the building used the honor system and required masks.
The other three Orange County courthouses are still under the honor system.
“We are very careful to monitor all developments in all our court facilities and make sure that we follow regulations as set forth by responsible government agencies, but also make sure that we are doing the best we can to protect the health of our judicial officers or employees or justice partners in our community,” Kalaitzidis said. “We are part of the Orange County community … and we’re very conscious of that.”