This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LIBERTY, Mo. — Positive COVID-19 cases and low vaccination rates in Clay County caused leaders to close the county courthouse until further notice.

The presiding judge in Clay County issued the order Wednesday, but many showing up to court Thursday were unaware and in for a surprise.

According to the order, the decision was made after several people who were inside the Rooney Justice Center tested positive for COVID-19. A vaccination rate of under 50% in Clay County and the fact that the CDC said the county has a high transmission rate also played into the decision.

Several local attorneys told FOX4 they feel it’s the right thing to do if it keeps everyone safe.

“It tells me they have cause for concern and they’re taking the appropriate action they believe is necessary,” attorney Charlie Regan said.

The decision means that most trials and hearings are postponed until further notice. The courthouse said attorneys are working to notify clients and reschedule hearings when the court resumes operations.

The court said virtual hearings will be scheduled for the following types of cases:

  • Proceedings to protect the Constitution rights of criminal defendants.
  • Proceedings pertaining to juvenile delinquency and abuse, neglect and termination of parental rights.
  • Proceeding for adoption.
  • Proceedings for any jury trial in progress, at the discretion of the trial judge.
  • Proceedings for Orders of Protection.
  • Proceedings for emergency child custody orders.
  • Proceedings for TROs or other temporary injunctive relief requests.
  • Proceedings for emergency mental health orders.
  • Any other proceeding determined by the court to be necessary to conduct.

The Rooney Justice Center will remain open for employees. Anyone working inside the building is required to wear a mask in all areas and is encouraged to social distance from other employees.

The requirements also apply to the Juvenile Court Building.

The Municipal Courts in Clay County remain open and the Judge of all Municipal Courts will make their own decisions about any precautions that may be needed and when the restrictions could take affect.