Some good news for you. The PA Supreme Court has released a new order. The statewide judicial emergency is lifted on June 1.
Here is the order.
As I have done previously, I will summarize the order for you.
- The general statewide judicial emergency as declared on March 16, 18 and April 1, 28 ends on June 1.
- Other orders expire according to whatever they state.
- President judges in each district may continue to exercise their emergency powers under 1952(B)(2). They may continue and extend emergencies as they deem appropriate. The President judges are empowered (within constitutional limitations) to:
- Limit in person access to safeguard everyone
- Suspend rules that restrict the use of advance communication techniques
- Suspend rules that impede local provisions for filings by means other than in-person delivery
- Suspend rules “pertaining to the rule-based right of criminal defendants to a prompt trial”
- Suspend jury trials until they can be conducted safely
- The order specifically notes that legal professionals need to gain greater physical access to their offices now that the courts are resuming business, because we have an obligation to provide appropriate representation to our clients. Therefore, we may “access … physical offices at least to the extent the attorneys reasonably believe doing so is necessary to satisfy their professional obligations, provided they take appropriate measures to protect the safety of their employees and the public”
- Those of us in a red phase counties, are still under the Governor’s guidance from April 28. We are still substantially limited, though we are allowed to go to our offices for essential reasons that cannot be managed otherwise. Obviously, taking extreme care.
- If you are in a yellow phase county, you must adhere to the requirements of the guidance under the Governor’s order for yellow phase re-opening. This means that you must take the required steps to minimize chances of transmitting COVID-19, and are still required to “employ remote or virtual methods of doing business whenever and wherever possible. Businesses that must conduct in-person operations…must adhere strictly to this guidance.” If you are doing any in-person work, you “must make …employees and customers aware of the efforts and commitment to protecting their health and safety.”
- I suggest you familiarize yourself with the guidelines and be certain you follow them or your building is following them. I have placed links below.
- The prior judicial order stopped evictions through May 11. This order does not address that. However, Governor Wolf banned evictions and foreclosures through July 10.
Governor Wolf has said that all Pennsylvania counties will be yellow phase by June 5. Most of the counties that are still red are in southeastern Pennsylvania. Obviously, we will have to see what actually happens. Please make sure your county is yellow before you start to act as if it is.
Here are the safety procedures for reopening businesses.
The main thing to remember is that we must continue to be careful. COVID-19 is still out there and is still spreading. The only way to avoid it is by keeping an appropriate distance, wearing masks when appropriate, and washing hands frequently. Also, it is important to sterilize surfaces. People should not be sharing equipment, phones, computers, pens, etc, unless they are properly sterilized between uses.
If you have employees or will be bringing clients into your office, please make sure you follow the safety procedures. Masks need to be changed throughout the day. You cannot wear one mask all day, it will become dirty. So you will need to make sure you and your staff have enough masks to get through however long you need to wear them. Reusable dirty masks should be safely removed, put in plastic bags, and boiled or laundered later.