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KANKAKEE — Face masks or face coverings must be worn by people entering the courthouses in Kankakee and Iroquois counties, 21st Circuit Chief Judge Michael D. Kramer said in a news release issued Friday.

It requires all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks in all public indoor spaces in the courthouse.

These updated guidelines have been made following the recommendations of the State of Illinois, Illinois Department of Public Health and Kankakee County Health Department, Kramer said in a news release.

All persons, including attorneys, must wear a mask or face covering in public areas of the courthouse.

This does not apply to any person who is under the age of two, incapacitated, having trouble breathing or unable to remove the face mask or face covering without assistance.

Persons required to speak in the course of a court proceeding may be directed to remove a mask or face covering when speaking if necessary to make a record.

People having business in the courthouse are strongly discouraged from bringing any other person with them to the courthouse, Kramer said.

“We have worked closely with the Kankakee County Health Department to ensure that we have safeguards in place to protect the health and safety of everyone in the courthouse," Kramer said in the release.

“The COVID-19 infection rates have increased to a level that court operations needed to include the reinstatement of mask wearing in order to protect the health and safety of the public, circuit court judges, and court employees," he continued. 

“The level of community transmission of COVID-19 in Kankakee and Iroquois counties, along with the CDC guidance on masks in indoor public places, necessitated this change. We will continue to closely monitor the circumstances and make changes as needed to mitigate the risk of transmission."

Jeff Bonty is a reporter for The Daily Journal. He can be reached at jbonty@daily-journal.com and 815-937-3366.