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UPDATE: General Order Regarding COVID-19 Mask Policy

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

This order governs the United States Courthouse at 517 East Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the courtroom and clerk’s office space at 125 S. Jefferson Street in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This order supersedes General Public Order 20-15 Regarding COVID-19 Virus Emergency—Mask Policy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health authorities have advised, and continue to advise, entities to take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. The United States Courts—district, bankruptcy and appellate—are public and essential institutions committed to sound administration of equal justice under the law. Other agencies in the Milwaukee courthouse building—including the United States Attorney’s Office, Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin, the United States Pretrial Services and Probation Office, the United States Trustee, the United States Marshal Service, the Federal Protective Service, the General Services Administration, the Secret Service and the Social Security Administration—also are essential institutions of the government and the justice system. The court in both buildings and the 2 other agencies in the courthouse at 517 East Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee will continue to take reasonable and prudent actions to further that mission consistent with the health and safety needs of the public, court and agency staff, case participants and others who enter the courthouse.

On May 13, 2021, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, announced new guidance recommending that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor or outdoor activities without wearing a mask or practicing physical distancing (while advising those who are immune compromised to consult with their doctors, noting that health care providers would continue to be bound by their employers’ guidelines and warning that if infections begin to rise, the guidance may change). The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” people as those for whom two weeks have passed after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Based on this guidance, effective July 1, 2021:

* Persons seeking entry to or occupying the courthouses—including, but not limited to, court staff, security personnel, vendors, contractors, litigants, attorneys, jurors and other members of the public—who are fully vaccinated, as defined by the CDC, are not required to wear a mask.

* Persons seeking entry to or occupying the courthouses—including, but not limited to, court staff, security personnel, vendors, contractors, litigants, attorneys, jurors and other members of the public—who are not fully vaccinated, as defined by the CDC, must wear a face covering or mask in 3 the public areas of the building. Public areas include the atrium/lobby, elevator banks, stairwells, restrooms, public corridors, clerk’s office counters and, unless excused by the presiding judge, courtrooms. A face covering or mask always must completely cover the wearer’s nose and mouth. The only unvaccinated persons excepted from this requirement are those who provide documentation that for medical reasons, they are unable to wear a face covering.

* All unvaccinated persons seeking entry to the courthouse are strongly encouraged to bring their own face covering or mask. Unvaccinated persons who do not bring their own face coverings or masks may obtain a disposable mask at the screening security station while supplies last; supplies will be limited. Any unvaccinated person who declines or refuses to wear a face covering and does not have documentation showing that they are unable to do so for medical reasons will be denied entry to the building. Such persons may contact by telephone the agency or office they intended to visit to explore alternatives to entering the courthouse.

* Because some vaccinated individuals may not be fully protected due to medical conditions or medications, because of the spread of certain COVID-19 variants and because some individuals are not comfortable without a mask, any vaccinated person may voluntarily choose to wear a mask.

* As stated in General Order 20-15, each individual tenant agency and court unit may develop and enforce its own policy for wearing face coverings or masks within its internal space. 4

* For jury trials, evidentiary hearings and other in-person court proceedings, parties and counsel should consult with the presiding judge about masking and social distancing requirements for jurors, witnesses, spectators and others. The presiding judge for each proceeding will determine the appropriate pandemic precautions—including masking and social distancing requirements—for that proceeding.

This order will remain in effect until further order of the court.

[Link to General Order]