NEW YORK - Anyone who has to go to federal court in Manhattan, Westchester County, and Dutchess County will need to mask up — twice — to get inside, according to a new policy.
In a public memo dated Feb. 11, 2021, Chief Judge Colleen McMahon says everyone coming into federal court buildings in the Southern District of New York will need to follow a series of pandemic protocols, including answering questions, getting their temperature checked, and wearing either two masks — a tight-fitting disposable mask under a cloth mask — or a well-fitting FDA-approved KN95 or N95 respirator-style mask.
And forget about wearing a gaiter, bandanna, or a mask with a valve or vent — those are all no-go.
A woman models a KN95 mask. (FOX 5 NY photo)
The federal courthouse policy memo states that anyone who either feels sick or recently had possible exposure to COVID-19 will be barred from entering court buildings. Anyone else who needs to come inside will undergo a screening. The policy further states:
"You are required to wear either: (i) one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask with the edges of the inner mask pushed against your face; or (ii) a properly fitted, FDA-authorized KN95 (or N95) mask. Gaiters, bandannas, or masks with valves/vents are not acceptable face coverings. If you do not have the approved mask(s), a screener will provide one. No one will be admitted without the proper mask(s)."
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Based on startling data from a recent study, the CDC updated its guidance to urge U.S. residents to double-mask. The study found that loose or poorly fitted masks allow way too many particles to get to the wearer. But wearing a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask helps tighten up one's protection and blocks more particles.
The CDC said that you don't need to double up if you wear a tight-fitting N95 or KN95, which were nearly impossible to find in the early stages of the pandemic but are now more widely available to consumers.
The Southern District of New York covers Manhattan and the Bronx as well as Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, and Sullivan counties. The U.S. District Court has courthouses in lower Manhattan, White Plains, and Poughkeepsie.