(Reuters) - A growing number of federal district courts from coast to coast are easing requirements for lawyers, staff and visitors to wear masks when entering their courthouses amid a nationwide decline in COVID-19 cases.
Since the beginning of March, more than a dozen district courts in states, including Connecticut, Missouri and Wisconsin, have issued orders relaxing or dropping requirements for people to wear face coverings aimed at reducing COVID-19's spread.
The latest include all three district courts in Pennsylvania, which on Monday in separate orders declared masks optional in their facilities, citing new guidance the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued last month.
The Pennsylvania district courts were joined on Monday by the U.S. District Courts for the Middle District of Florida, Kansas, the Northern District of Indiana, and the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
Other districts relaxing their masking rules this month include Massachusetts, the Eastern District of Virginia, and Western District of Washington, whose chief judge warned that masks could return if the situation changes.
"The Court sincerely hopes that this downward trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations will continue," Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez in Seattle wrote in a Thursday order.
The changes came after the CDC on Feb. 25 dramatically eased its COVID-19 guidelines for masks, shifting from a focus on the rate of coronavirus transmission to monitoring local hospitalizations, hospital capacity and infection rates."
This article was originally posted in the Reuters.
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