Beginning Monday face coverings will be required to gain entry and conduct business in the Halifax County Courthouse.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Alma L. Hinton and Chief District Court Judge Brenda G. Branch signed the order today.
The order defines a face covering as one which covers the nose and mouth and is secured to the head with ties, straps or loops over the ears. It can also be a cover which is wrapped around the lower face.
The coverings can be factory-made, sewn by hand or improvised from appropriate household items such as scarves.
The coverings cannot depict or promote profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, violence or the use of illegal drugs.
A face shield that covers the nose and mouth also meets the face covering requirements of the order.
While courts remain open, the order says “additional action is necessary to reduce the risk of spread of infection throughout the Halifax County Courthouse.”
The judges wrote the order as a way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus “and thereby to potentially save lives.”
The order applies to anyone over the age of 2.
Those with medical or behavioral issues, conditions, disabilities or with other reasons they can’t wear a mask and believe they should be exempted will be required to submit a request with accompanying documentation to the Halifax County Clerk's Office for a judicial review and discretionary determination of whether the citizen qualifies for one of the exceptions.
The order is in line with Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 141 issued last month which encourages social distancing, wearing a face covering and handwashing. “Face coverings can decrease the spread of respiratory droplets from people, and evidence has grown, showing in numerous recent studies that the use of face coverings decreases the spread of COVID-19 within populations,” the order says.