NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an order that will continue to ease COVID-19 restrictions for in-person proceedings.
The order, issued Friday, reduces the required space between people in the courtroom from six to three feet, lifts any courtroom capacity limits still in effect, and lifts the facial coverings requirement. The order still encourages facial coverings in compliance with CDC guidelines and allows any person to wear a facial covering.
The order encourages courts to continue to use alternative means to in-person hearings, including video and teleconferences, when possible.
“Statewide, the courts have done a tremendous job staying open under these trying circumstances for over a year and the Supreme Court commends their innovation, dedication, and perseverance in following our Orders, CDC Guidelines, and state and county health directives,” said Chief Justice Jeff Bivins. “It is time to allow courts more flexibility in managing their caseloads and courtrooms while still being cognizant that the virus is still out there.”
This marks the tenth order the Tennessee Supreme Court has issued related to the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 2020 to June 2020 and again from December 2020 to March 2021, many types of in-person proceedings were suspended and strict precautions were mandated for any permissible in-person proceedings. Courts turned to video and audio conferences, outdoor locations, staggered dockets, and other innovative ideas to keep cases moving and constitutional and other rights preserved.
Overall, courts have held more than 18,692 video proceedings on Zoom licenses managed by the Administrative Office of the Courts. On March 15, 2021, the most recent suspension of non-jury in-person proceedings was lifted, and on March 31, 2021 the suspension of jury trials was lifted.
You can learn more about the most recent order here.