The Pennsylvania Judiciary was quick to respond to the challenges involved with the pandemic. It declared a judicial emergency and issued orders on March 16, March 18, March 24, April 1 and April 28. That last order ended June 1 of 2020. Additional announcements were issued as needed.
What are the current guidelines and requirements? Let’s take a look.
Some people can’t go into the courthouse
The courts and court offices are currently closed to the following:
- Anyone with or exposed to COVID-19
- Anyone who traveled to an area where there was an outbreak
- Anyone advised to self-quarantine by doctors, hospitals or health agency
- Anyone associated with someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19
- Anyone with symptoms consistent with the virus, including fever, severe cough or shortness of breath
- Anyone awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
These rules will be in effect until further notice. Those who enter the courts or offices must wear a protective mask at all times. Their actions must be consistent with all current recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control. Those who cannot mask for health reasons or on religious grounds should contact the courts’ Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator directly at 412-350-4044 or 412-350-5419. They must do this before showing up to the courts or offices.
What do these protocols mean?
The above rules apply specifically to Allegany County. Generally speaking, other courts across the state and region may have different rules and potentially operating normally, while others may fully remote. This means that many cases remain online, with everyone involved in the case using a video platform.
Circumstances will change, so it is essential to discuss the likely options for individual cases. At this point, many judges, attorneys and administrative staff have become comfortable and efficient at working virtually. Since there is a growing backlog, clients should embrace any opportunity to move forward as long as the parties involved in the case are ready to proceed.