CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Courthouse and the Judicial Annex building are reopening on Monday and precautionary steps are being taken with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford appeared on Friday’s 580-LIVE on 580-WCHS to discuss the openings and what his office is doing to keep the community and his deputies safe.
Kanawha County Chief Circuit Judge Charlie King has handed down a 24-point administrative order on how the Kanawha County court system and annex that has been closed since March 25 after several positive COVID-19 tests.
MetroNews has previously reported that King’s order requires the use of video and telephonic court hearings whenever possible but for those who have to come to the annex for hearings or other business will be required to wear facial coverings while in the building.
Rutherford said everyone entering the building will also have their temperature taken by deputies and security.
“If they are over the guidelines set by the health department then the display will show red and we will ask them to leave the building. If the display shows green then they are fine and there is no problem,” he said.
The order also deals with hand-washing stations, limits elevator use to two people at a time, restricts entrances and covers how mail will be handled.
Rutherford also said the people allowed inside the building are highly restrictive by the court order as before the pandemic there were times with hundreds in the building at once. Access by the public will mostly be limited to the first three floors of the building.
The court order said the seating will be spaced six feet and appointments to places like the probation office will be staggered. King has also ordered magistrate court hearings to be at least 15 minutes apart.
Access to the judicial annex was first restricted on March 21. The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department tested annex employees. There were eight positive tests associated with the building.
The Kanawha County Commission also announced the reopening of the courthouse across the street with restrictions.
For example, Rutherford said the tax departments will be reopened by six feet distance barriers and employees in the office there on a limited basis.
The hours of the courthouse buildings will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Rutherford said appreciates the support his office and all frontline workers have gotten in the past two months.
“You take your healthcare providers and workers, public safety people such as EMTs, paramedics, law enforcement, and firefighters. I think sometimes it takes something unusual for people to realize how important these people are,” he said.