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Mask mandate begins Monday in Clay, Duval and Nassau county courts

Courts will not return to virtual proceedings, despite requests from criminal defense attorneys concerned about COVID-19 exposure.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Note: The video above was originally published July 9.)

Masks will be mandatory starting Monday in courthouses in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, according to 4th Circuit Chief Judge Mark Mahon.

The move comes in response to surging COVID-19 cases in Northeast Florida, a national hotspot for contagion.

Mahon says they will not return to Zoom court as requested by the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who have the most contact with jail inmates, where COVID-19 outbreaks have been a persistent problem.

Mahon says masks will be required in public areas and in courtrooms, although individual judges can permit unmasking if "the interest of justice" demands.

The new rules come after the Florida Supreme Court issued long but vague new rules Thursday night, which basically left choices about remote court and mask mandates up to local judicial circuits.

This is a developing story. 

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