The courts in Orange and Osceola County that make up the 9th Circuit have reverted back to Phase One of reopening operations after the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the area.

“The Florida Supreme Court outlined a four-phased approach to court operations during this pandemic that requires very specific criteria to be met at each phase. With the changing landscape in our community’s health conditions – in both Orange and Osceola counties – the Ninth Judicial Circuit no longer meets the Supreme Court’s criteria for Phase 2 operations.

“Consequently, and with the input of County and State medical experts and the consensus of the Workgroup on Restoration of Access to the Courthouses, the Ninth Judicial Circuit will be transitioning back into Phase 1 operations beginning on Monday, June 29.” Circuit officials said in a news release.

Two State Attorney’s Office employees, including one attorney and one support staffer, has tested positive for COVID-19, State Attorney Aramis Ayala said.

Under Phase I, which the courts operated under for most of the pandemic since March, the courts remain open only for essential hearings. Nonessential hearings will be conducted remotely or rescheduled. In-person contact is inadvisable, court facilities are effectively closed to the public, and in-person proceedings are few and far between, such as to rule on protection injunctions.

The 9th Circuit had been in the Phase 2 since June 5, which allow for limited in-person contact with protective measures, Myers said. The public was allowed into the Osceola County Courthouse, for example, but had to be screened in a covered area outside the building and would only be let in 15 minutes prior to their appointment or hearing.