Iowa courts continue mask requirements, allow video hearings

December 6, 2021 GMT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Masks will continue to be required in Iowa courtrooms and some proceedings may continue to be held via teleconference under orders issued Monday by the Iowa Supreme Court chief justice.

“All people entering court-controlled spaces must wear a face mask. This requirement applies regardless of a person’s vaccination status,” the order by Chief Justice Susan Christensen stated.

The requirement includes all counties and does not depend on a local area’s positivity rate or transmission status, she said.

All 99 Iowa counties are considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be experiencing a high rate of COVID-19 spread.

The mask requirement stands out since Iowa has no other personal protective requirements regarding the virus. Gov. Kim Reynolds has resisted mask mandates and is fighting in court to prevent school districts from imposing them.

The order said judges may permit the removal of face masks by participants or take other measures to mitigate the virus spread during court proceedings.

It also allows for civil trials to be held by videoconference. In criminal cases, depositions, bond reviews, arraignments and some other court hearings and procedures may be held by remote video or phone conference. The same applies to certain juvenile and family law proceedings.

Christensen appointed a task force of judges, lawyers, court administrators and others in April to study the court operations during the pandemic and recommend procedures going forward. The order Monday followed recommendations resulting from the task force.