Masks now mandatory at Winnipeg courthouse following positive COVID-19 test

By | September 8, 2020

WINNIPEG — All visitors and staff members at Winnipeg courthouses will be required to wear masks starting Tuesday, Sept. 8.

This directive comes after a staff member at the Winnipeg Law Courts tested positive for COVID-19.

A letter signed by the Manitoba Court of Appeal, the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and Manitoba Provincial Court, posted online Tuesday morning, said masks are now mandatory in the courthouse for members of the public, including counsel and members of the media. The areas where masks are mandatory includes all public areas and courthouse hallways.

The directive applies to the Winnipeg Law Courts Complex, St. Boniface, and all Winnipeg circuit points.

The Manitoba government confirmed the positive test of the employee Monday evening.

“Public health officials are investigating, and have directed any close contacts to self-isolate for 14 days,” A Manitoba government spokesperson said in an email.

“The employee primarily works in non-public areas and does not have interaction with the public.”

The spokesperson said if there is any risk to the public, additional information will be provided as needed.

There are exceptions to the mask mandate. Masks are not mandatory in courtrooms unless the presiding judge stipulates otherwise.

“While a courthouse is an indoor public place, a courtroom is not,” the latter states, noting there are limitations on who can remain in the courtroom due to the pandemic.

In courthouse office areas, staff members are encouraged to wear masks, though it is left to the employee to decide if they will wear them. Employees who work at public counters must wear a mask unless behind a Plexiglas barrier.

Manitoba Justice said it is performing extra deep cleaning in the Winnipeg Law Courts complex.

The letter said the employee hadn’t worked since Wednesday.

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