FILE - MD Garmatz Courthouse 7-9-2017

The Edward A. Garmatz United States Courthouse is seen July 9, 2017, in Baltimore.

(The Center Square) – Beginning Sept. 8, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland is requiring people to be fully vaccinated to enter the facility.

In a news release issued on its website by Chief Judge James Bredar, he said, “In order to protect the health and safety of the public and court staff, the Court recently adopted a vaccine policy applicable to employees of the U.S. District Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and Probation and Pretrial Services Office in this district.

“The Court now finds it necessary and appropriate to extend that vaccination to all persons seeking to enter any U.S. Courthouse in the District of Maryland, with limited exceptions.”

The exceptions for persons not being fully vaccinated, according to the release, includes anyone who is a criminal defendant, sitting and prospective Grand and Petit Jurors and lay witnesses, unless the court has granted an exemption from the mandate based on medical or religious grounds.

The release reads: “Persons gathering in Courthouses are at particular risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus by virtue of their close proximity to others, and because of the interactive activity that generally occurs in court proceedings.”

Those attempting to enter Courthouses “who are not fully vaccinated and who are not Court staff members” will be permitted to enter upon producing a negative COVID-19 test result, “provided the test was administered no more than 72 hours prior,” the release reads.

The order, the release said, is “extended to attorneys, government agents, investigators, employees of counsel, parties or party representatives in civil matters, employees of state and federal law enforcement agencies to include Deputy U.S. Marshals and Court Security Officers, witnesses in civil cases, members of the press, and all others” seeking to enter the facility.

On Aug. 13, Bednar issued a mandate that all court employees be fully vaccinated, or in the process of becoming fully vaccinated, against COVID-19. He said employees would have the “option of demonstrating they have been fully vaccinated or presenting proof that they have been tested twice weekly and found to not be carrying the COVID-19 virus.”

In addition, he said those employees opting against the vaccine “will be prohibited from work-related travel.”

Brednar also said that once “the FDA gives full approval to at least one of the vaccines” that “employees will no longer have the option of undergoing testing to avoid the vaccination requirement.”

Federal courts are located in Baltimore, Greenbelt and Salisbury.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.