As COVID-19 restrictions loosen for Illinois’ vaccinated population, McHenry County court officials have announced upcoming changes surrounding social distancing and speedy trial time calculations.
Beginning Monday, those who are vaccinated no longer will be required to socially distance at the Michael J. Sullivan Judicial Center in Woodstock, according to a recent administrative order.
James Cowlin, chief judge of the 22nd Judicial Circuit, signed the order Thursday, ending the courthouse’s Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan. As a result, previously taped-off seating throughout the building will be open, and visitors may bring guests with them to court, among other loosened restrictions.
Some pandemic-born practices such as select remote appearances and staggered court calls will remain in place, according to a news release from the court administration office. Decisions about the use of remote court appearances will be left to the discretion of each judge, according to the release.
Deadlines for speedy trial demands also are scheduled to resume Oct. 1. Those deadlines previously were suspended in light of the pandemic.
All pleas and post-plea matters scheduled in traffic court may continue to be heard remotely via Zoom. Trials or other evidentiary proceedings related to traffic citations will be heard in person in courtroom 102, according to the release.
People also may continue to present petitions for emergency orders of protection, stalking no-contact orders and civil no-contact orders by remote video calls. Agreed orders will continue to be accepted in the civil and family divisions, according to the release.
Despite the lifted restrictions, anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms – including a fever, cough or shortness of breath that is not caused by a chronic condition – should not enter the courthouse, according to the release. The same is true for anyone directed by a medical provider or public health official to quarantine or isolate at home, as well as anyone who has regular close contact with someone who is under quarantine or isolation, provided they are not fully vaccinated, according to the release.
Anyone who is not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a mask in the building and practice social distancing. Those who are fully vaccinated may continue to wear a mask or face covering if they choose.