A new order has banned certain types of face coverings for anyone entering the Santa Barbara County Superior Court facilities.
Officials have prohibited bandanas, handkerchiefs, gaiters and masks with valves.
Court staff, attorneys, defendants and visitors must wear N95, KN95, KF94 or surgical masks.
For those without N95, KN95 or KF94 masks, the preferred option is a surgical mask with a cloth mask over it, Court Executive Officer Darrel Parker said.
“Our primary objective was to eliminate the ones that are known to be ineffective,” Parker said Friday.
The masking order will be in effect for at last 30 days, he added.
Court security staff have surgical masks available for people who show up to the facilities wearing one of the prohibited facial coverings.
The new order comes as the court system attempts to stem the spread of COVD-19.
The spike in local cases also prompted a temporary suspension of new jury trials after the holiday break, as Noozhawk reported Jan. 3.
“Considering the ease of transmission of the Omicron variant, conducting jury trials would unduly endanger court personnel, litigants, attorneys, jurors and the public as well as threaten the continuous performance of essential court functions and operations,” according to a Jan. 10 court order.
The order affects all civil and criminal jury trials that have not started and lasts through Jan. 21, when it could be extended or allowed to expire depending on the case numbers.
Parker said Friday he anticipates that order might need to be extended.
It does not suspend the two trials currently underway in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara involving defendants allegedly tied to the MS-13 criminal gang and accuse of multiple murders and other crimes.
However, both trials have taken longer-than-planned recesses hoping to wait out the rise in cases and exposures following the holidays.
The change in masking rules came ahead of the three-day holiday weekend to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day which means all courtrooms and offices will be closed Monday.
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.