(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi State Judiciary on Monday announced changes to court operations, following Governor David Ige’s plan to lift pandemic-related restrictions on March 26.
“Given Governor Ige’s announcements easing COVID-19 restrictions, we are making adjustments to Judiciary operations, taking into consideration the circumstances and situations in each circuit as we continue to protect the health and safety of court users and Judiciary personnel,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald in a news release.
From the Hawaiʻi State Judiciary:
Today the Chief Justice announced that his statewide orders pertaining to entering Judiciary facilities for the public and attorneys, which include attorney vaccination and testing requirements, will be rescinded effective March 26.
The Chief Judges of each circuit have issued orders pertaining to their safety precautions, reflecting COVID-19 case counts and risk indicators in their communities and the volume of court users relative to their courthouse capacities.
Beginning March 26, the Second, Third, and Fifth Circuits will lift COVID-19 emergency orders and no longer require health screening upon entry. Mask wearing will become optional for employees and court users as well.
The Appellate Courts and facilities in the First Circuit will, for the time being, continue with many COVID-19 precautions, including mask usage. This approach reflects the higher positive case counts on Oahu, larger number of people in these facilities, the limited size of our courtrooms and common areas, and ventilation resources.
The employee vaccination and testing program and post-travel restrictions will be lifted effective March 26. “Although not required, we continue to strongly encourage all Judiciary employees to get fully vaccinated, including a booster shot,” said the Chief Justice.
Remote court hearings, which were prevalent during the last two years, will continue for certain case types at the discretion of the presiding court.
“We conducted over 360,000 hearings by Zoom in the last two years. This enabled the courts to continue to fulfill their responsibility to administer justice during the pandemic,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald. “Attorneys, parties, and other court users have appreciated the time-saving convenience of participating in their hearings by Zoom.
“We are mindful that the pandemic is not over and we will remain vigilant and prepared to shift course quickly should the situation change,” he added. “I want to express my deep appreciation to our judges and staff for their incredible efforts over the last two years as we rapidly shifted from a mostly in-person operation to one that continued to administer justice in a timely manner with the help of remote technology. I’d also like to thank the attorneys and court users for their patience and support during these challenging times.
“While we sincerely hope the worst is truly behind us, we will use the lessons learned to better serve the people of Hawaii in the future,” the Chief Justice said.