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Supreme Court will close to public amid coronavirus pandemic

Supreme Court will close to public amid coronavirus pandemic
© Greg Nash

The Supreme Court will close to the public indefinitely starting on Thursday afternoon amid concerns over coronavirus, but the building remains open for "official business," a spokeswoman said.

The new restriction on public access comes after the pandemic infected more than 1,300 in the U.S., including 10 cases in Washington, D.C., where local officials have declared a state of emergency and discouraged large gatherings as social and economic disruption widens across the country.

“Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Supreme Court building will be closed to the public … until further notice,” said court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe.

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“The building will remain open for official business, and case filing deadlines are not extended,” she added.

The justices’ next round of oral arguments is scheduled for March 23. The court offered no details on how access to oral arguments for the public, press and other interested parties who typically occupy the 500-person capacity courtroom during proceedings could be affected.

Six of the nine justices are age 65 or older, placing them in a population that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers to be at risk for serious illness from coronavirus. 

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The courthouse in Washington that houses the federal district and appeals courts has also announced it would restrict public access beginning on Friday.

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"We are taking this temporary action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and out of concern for the health and safety of the courthouse community," the court said in a statement.

– Harper Neidig contributed

Updated: 4:17 p.m.