Florida courts to drop mask and distance requirements effective July 21

After more than a year of dealing with COVID-19 restrictions, Miami-Dade and all of Florida’s courts, are ramping up again, free of requirements that participants wear mask and socially distance themselves.

An order to that effect, signed Friday by Chief Justice Charles Canady, cites increased vaccination rates and a declining case counts, plus more lenient guidance by public health authorities.

“At this time, effective vaccines for COVID-19 are adequately available in Florida for persons ages 12 and older; almost half of this state’s population has been partially or fully vaccinated; and government-issued health standards and guidance provide that fully vaccinated persons do not need to wear face masks or physically distance in most indoor and outdoor settings unless required by federal, state, or local laws, rules, or regulations,” the chief justice wrote.

As the state’s chief justice, Canady serves as top administrator of the court system.

He sharply limited in-person proceedings in March 2020, suspending the speedy-trial rule, which ordinarily sets deadlines for bringing cases against defendants, and requiring most proceedings conducted via teleconference.

He began lifting these restrictions nearly one year ago. The new guidelines lift mask and distance rules as early as June 21 but no later than Aug. 2. Criminal jury trials get priority treatment for courtroom space.

The speedy-trial rule clock starts on Oct. 4 for juveniles and for adults arrested before March 14, 2020. Adults arrested after March 14, 2020, will regain their speedy-trial rights on Jan. 3, 2022, the order says.

To read the complete order AOSC21-17 click here.


This report first appeared on the website of the Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to coverage of state government and politics from Tallahassee.

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