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Face masks will be required in the Cole County Courthouse again starting Friday, Cole County Presiding Judge Jon Beetem announced Thursday.

The mask requirement will apply regardless of a person's COVID-19 vaccination status.

Beetem noted the general increase in COVID-19 cases in the area, the low vaccination rate and the occurrence of breakthrough infections warranted additional precautions, although there have not been any COVID-19 cases among courthouse employees since last year.

"Most people do not come to the courthouse voluntarily," Beetem said in a news release. "It is incumbent on us to do what we can to protect both the visitors and staff at the courthouse. Masking, although not perfect, provides additional protections for both the wearer of the mask and the people interacting with the mask-wearer. Social distancing alone is not really possible in our courthouse and impedes the conduct of court dockets."

Beetem also asked that anyone who has potential COVID-19 symptoms stay home.

A continuance for cases can be requested by downloading a form at colecounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/6916/Request-for-Continuance-2021 or by contacting the Circuit Clerk's Office at [email protected] or 573-634- 9150. Be prepared to provide your court date and case number when contacting the clerk.

Those going to the courthouse should bring a mask and check with their attorneys to see if they need to go to court.

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