New vaccine policy issued for Dayton federal courthouse employees, visitors

The Walter H. Rice Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Dayton. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
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The Walter H. Rice Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Dayton. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

A new order will require employees of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to submit verification that they are vaccinated or be required to get tested for the COVID-19 virus twice a week.

Unvaccinated employees also will be required to wear a mask at all times in the courthouse and maintain social distance from others.

The decision was made following a meeting of the court’s pandemic executive team and further approved by the district judges of the Southern District of Ohio, the order issued last week says.

“These measures enacted by the Court are necessary to create and maintain a safe work environment, especially in light of the continuing spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley. “We must ensure the health of our staff and the public we serve.”

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Visitors will be asked about their vaccination status and are required to wear a mask while inside common areas of the federal courthouse, the order says. Unvaccinated visitors will be required to wear a face mask in all court areas.

The new order was issued as federal and local courts have changed their rules regarding masks and other COVID-19 precautions. The Montgomery County Common Pleas Court and the Dayton Municipal Courthouse have required all visitors to wear face masks and social distance for over a month. They briefly paused those requirements in June and July as the state health orders expired.

Signs are now posted throughout the courthouse reminding visitors of the requirements and plexiglass was installed in courtrooms to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when attorneys and court staff speak. Also, the common pleas court purchased several air filters to help stop the spread of the virus.

Also, the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office has required that all employees get vaccinated. Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said the policy was implemented so his office can best serve the community they work with while keeping everyone healthy and safe.

The new vaccine order will impact the federal courthouses in Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread, implementation of these safety measures for our staff and visitors is of paramount importance,” said U.S. District Judge Michael J. Newman, the federal district judge at the Dayton courthouse. “Those conducting business in our courthouses should know that the court is taking all necessary measures to ensure their safety.”