Updated May 22, 2020 - 9:06 am
Most people who enter Las Vegas courthouses will be required to wear face coverings, according to an order issued Thursday.
In the coming weeks, outlying courthouses in Henderson and North Las Vegas are expected to start following directives similar to the one handed down by Chief District Judge Linda Bell.
Bell’s order, which is expected to be reviewed in 30 days, requires anyone entering the following facilities to wear face coverings: the Regional Justice Center, Family Court, Las Vegas Municipal Court, Las Vegas Justice Court, the Clark County public defender’s and district attorney’s offices, the county’s juvenile justice services and family services.
The judge also required court employees to adhere to social distancing practices and limited public elevators to four people at a time.
Children under age 2 and people unable to remove face coverings without assistance are not required to comply with the directive.
The order did not state whether officials would provide face coverings for those who attempt to enter the facilities without masks.
While no orders have been issued in North Las Vegas or Henderson justice courts, officials there said they expected to follow the District Court’s order.
Since March, hearings in North Las Vegas have been limited mostly to in-custody criminal cases and emergency civil cases, according to Court Administrator Terri March.
Once more hearings are allowed, she said, officials expect to require face coverings and provide masks for those who do not have them.
“We will closely mirror the District Court order,” March said. “We’re just coming up with the safest way to provide access to justice.”
In some courtrooms, plexiglass dividers have been installed to offer buffers between people, she added, and many hearings are being conducted via videoconference.
Henderson’s Chief Justice of the Peace Sam Bateman said he was reviewing Bell’s order and expected a similar plan regarding face coverings.
Court employees are required to follow county guidelines regarding social distancing and to wear masks when that is not possible, he said. Maximum capacity for courtrooms has been reduced to 22 or 24, depending on room size, he added.
Facial coverings and social distancing also are encouraged for the public, according to Bateman.
The city’s Justice Court shares a building on South Water Street with Henderson Municipal Court, with which Bateman said he was “working with regard to safety.”
Henderson Municipal Court Administrator Bill Zihlmann said face coverings are strongly encouraged inside all Henderson facilities, including the municipal court.
The Nevada Supreme Court has not issued an order regarding face coverings, but the court has scheduled remote arguments in the coming weeks.
The U.S. District Court of Nevada recommends that people wear masks when they go to a federal court building, to avoid spreading COVID-19, but will not require that they do so, Chief Judge Miranda Du said in a statement earlier this week.