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What are Northern California courts doing to prepare to reopen?

Courts are facing the difficult challenge of resuming normal operations to deal with a backlog of legal cases while also balancing public health and safety.

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. — Courts across California are preparing to reopen after having been closed for normal operations for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced them to hold hearing online.

The San Joaquin County Superior Court on Wednesday reopened some of its courtrooms but with restrictions. San Joaquin courts will require temperature checks, anyone who refuses or has a temperature over 100.4 will not be allowed inside.

Only people involved in a case such as witnesses, plaintiffs, defendants, attorneys, law enforcement, court staff, couriers, and those seeking or picking up a restraining order will be allowed to enter.

Courtrooms will open gradually through July 6.

San Joaquin County will not require face coverings to enter court buildings but will require anyone who enters to remain socially distant. Although, the San Joaquin Courts have provided employees with protective equipment like gloves, masks and hand sanitizer.

"We have to put our faith and confidence in the courts to do what’s best for their local jurisdiction for their county," said Ona Alston Dosunmu, CEO and Executive Director of the California Lawyer's Association.

The courts are facing the difficult challenge of resuming normal operations to deal with a backlog of legal cases while also balancing public health and safety, Alston Dosunmu said.

Face coverings aren't required by California's Department of Health under the stay-at-home order or by San Joaquin County Health Officials. Face coverings are recommended to be worn as they can reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

Neighboring Sacramento County will, among other restrictions, require the public to use face-masks when it resumes regular operations on June 12.

There isn't an official state-wide guidance on how courtrooms should re-open safely. The rule making arm of the California Courts, the California Judicial Council, is currently working on guidance.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Giacomo Luca.

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