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CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) GUIDANCE

All announcements from the Court are listed below, ordered by most recent date.  Please review all of the announcements to ensure you are fully informed. 

This page was last updated on August 20, 2021.

August 20, 2021

Consistent with policies recently adopted by multiple federal courts, as well as the employee and contractor policy recently adopted by this Court through General Order 2021-12, the Court has determined that the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant supports the adoption of a vaccination and testing policy applicable to counsel admitted to practice before this Court and employees of their offices who will appear in person in our Courthouses and Court facilities.  Such policy will operate to protect all individuals that enter our Courthouses/facilities, to include litigants, jurors, and members of the public.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-13 In re:   VACCINATION AND TESTING POLICY FOR ADMITTED COUNSEL AND EMPLOYEES OF THEIR OFFICES

August 13, 2021

Consistent with policies recently adopted by the President, the Governor of Virginia, and multiple federal district and appellate courts across the country, the risk posed by the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant supports the adoption of a vaccination and testing policy applicable to employees and contractors of the U.S. District Court and U.S. Probation Office.  While such policy is applicable to employees and contractors, it will operate to protect all individuals that enter our Courthouses and Court facilities, to include litigants, jurors, and members of the public.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-12 In re: VACCINATION & TESTING POLICY

July 30, 2021

Consistent with recently updated CDC guidance, the increase in community transmission of the COVID-19 Delta variant supports adopting a mandatory masking policy in our Courthouses and Court facilities for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.  In addition to masking, six feet of social distancing will continue to be required, and the previously adopted discretionary three-foot distancing rule applicable to jury trials and grand jury proceedings is withdrawn.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-11 In re: UPDATED MASK AND DISTANCING POLICY

July 8, 2021

In light of current pandemic conditions, ongoing vaccination efforts, and the end of the state of emergency in Virginia, the Court adopts a discretionary distancing policy applicable during jury trials and grand jury proceedings to provide additional flexibility and improve the efficiency of the Court.  Under such policy, the presiding judge has the discretion to reduce distancing between jurors and prospective jurors to a minimum of three feet, with additional restrictions as detailed in the General Order.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-10 In re: DISCRETIONARY DISTANCING POLICY DURING JURY TRIALS AND GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS.

June 28, 2021

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed legislation authorizing the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings, with such legislation requiring the Chief Judge to reassess conditions at least once every 90 days.  General Order 2021-07 made the necessary findings for a final extension of the authorization for remote felony guilty pleas or remote felony sentencings through June 25, 2021.  General Order 2021-09  explains that the Court's CARES Act authorization has come to an end.  This also brings to an end the temporary public telephonic access program for such criminal proceedings.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-09  In re: END TO CARES ACT AUTHORIZATION TO USE VIDEO CONFERENCING OR TELEPHONE CONFERENCING FOR CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS 

June 11, 2021

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed legislation authorizing the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings, with such legislation requiring the Chief Judge to reassess conditions at least once every 90 days.  General Order 2021-07 makes the findings necessary to reauthorize the use of video conferencing, or alternatively telephone conferencing, in this District for criminal proceedings listed in § 15002(b)(1) of the CARES Act through June 25, 2021.  The Order does not further extend the authorization for remote felony guilty pleas or remote felony sentencings.  

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-07  In re: CARES ACT REAUTHORIZATION TO USE VIDEO CONFERENCING OR TELEPHONE CONFERENCING.

June 7, 2021

In light of improving pandemic conditions and updated guidance from federal, state, and local health officials, the Court adopts an updated mask policy that no longer requires fully vaccinated individuals to wear a mask in our Courthouses/facilities unless instructed otherwise by a presiding judge.  Six feet of distancing must continue to be maintained in all areas of our Courthouses/facilities, including courtrooms, whenever possible.  Additionally, the Court has updated the public notices posted at Courthouse/facility entrances and has updated its COVID-19 voluntary juror screening questionnaire.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-06 in re: MASK AND DISTANCING POLICY, PUBLIC ENTRY NOTICES, AND JUROR QUESTIONNAIRE.

April 30, 2021

The Clerk’s Office counters will reopen to the public on May 17, 2021, in all Divisions of this Court in light of improving pandemic conditions.  As part of the reopening transition process, Clerk's Office hours will initially be from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through the end of May. Beginning June 1, regular operating hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. will be resumed.

For those that still wish to minimize interactions, the public drop boxes will remain available during hours when the courthouses are open. Federal employees with building access may use the drop boxes during the evening or weekend hours as well.  Clerk’s Office staff retrieve documents from the drop boxes at 9:00 AM each day that the Court is open.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-05 In re: REOPENING OF CLERK’S OFFICE PUBLIC COUNTERS.

March 18, 2021

Civil jury trials will resume in this District beginning on May 3, 2021, in light of the continued decrease in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and “percent positivity” in our District, among other factors.   Civil jury trials will only be conducted in the retrofitted trial courtrooms in each respective Division, and because criminal trials will continue to take precedence, civil jury trials will occur only when a retrofitted courtroom is not being used for a criminal jury trial. 

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-04 In re: RESUMPTION OF CIVIL JURY TRIALS.


March 15, 2021

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed legislation authorizing the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings, with such legislation requiring the Chief Judge to reassess conditions every ninety days.  General Order 2021-03 makes the findings necessary to reauthorize the use of video conferencing, or alternatively telephone conferencing, in this District for an additional ninety days, unless terminated earlier.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-03  In re: CARES ACT REAUTHORIZATION TO USE VIDEO CONFERENCING OR TELEPHONE CONFERENCING.

February 23, 2021

Criminal jury trials and grand jury proceedings will resume in this District beginning on March 1, 2021, in light of the multi-week downward trends in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and “percent positivity” in our District, among other factors.  All in-person misdemeanor, traffic, and petty offense dockets in all Divisions of this Court, as well as the empanelment of new grand juries, are temporarily suspended through March 31, 2021.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-02 In re: RESUMPTION OF CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS AND GRAND JURIES; TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON MISDEMEANOR, TRAFFIC, AND PETTY OFFENSE DOCKETS.

January 8, 2021

All criminal jury trials, grand jury proceedings, and all in-person misdemeanor, traffic, and petty offense dockets in all Divisions of this Court are temporarily suspended through February 28, 2021.  Such temporary suspension is in response to the significant increase in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and “percent positivity” in our District, among other factors.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2021-01 In re: : TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS, GRAND JURIES, AND IN-PERSON MISDEMEANOR, TRAFFIC, AND PETTY OFFENSE DOCKETS.

December 18, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed legislation authorizing the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings, with such legislation requiring the Chief Judge to reassess conditions every ninety days.  General Order 2020-24 makes the findings necessary to reauthorize the use of video conferencing, or alternatively telephone conferencing, in this District for an additional ninety days, unless terminated earlier.
   
 For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-24  In re: CARES ACT REAUTHORIZATION TO USE VIDEO CONFERENCING OR TELEPHONE CONFERENCING.

December 11, 2020

All misdemeanor, traffic, and petty offense dockets for in-person hearings scheduled in all Divisions of this Court from December 14, 2020, through January 18, 2021, are hereby SUSPENDED.  Such temporary suspension is in response to the significant increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and “percent positivity” in our District; the increase in known and suspected COVID-19 exposures of court personnel and court users; and the recent statewide actions increasing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-23 In re: TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON MISDEMEANOR, TRAFFIC, AND PETTY OFFENSE DOCKETS.

November 16, 2020

All criminal jury trials in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia are temporarily suspended, with criminal jury trials to resume on January 19, 2021, absent further Order from this Court.  Such temporary suspension is in response to the significant increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and “percent positivity” in our District; the increase in known and suspected COVID-19 exposure of court personnel and court users; and the recent statewide and local community actions increasing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-22 In re: TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS.

October 30, 2020

Due to social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 situation, spectator seating for trials in the Norfolk and Newport News Courthouses is extremely limited. Seating is available on a first come basis. The courthouses are open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

September 24, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed legislation authorizing the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings, with such legislation requiring the Chief Judge to reassess conditions every ninety days.  General Order 2020-21 makes the findings necessary to reauthorize the use of video conferencing, or alternatively telephone conferencing, in this District for an additional ninety days, unless terminated earlier.
   
 For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-21  In re: CARES ACT REAUTHORIZATION TO USE VIDEO CONFERENCING OR TELEPHONE CONFERENCING.

July 7, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as part of the Court’s anticipated resumption of criminal jury trials in our District, the Court adopts the modified jury summons packet included in the attached General Order 2020-20.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-20  In re: MODIFIED JURY SUMMONS PACKET.

June 30, 2020

General Order 2020-19 outlines the anticipated timeline for the resumption of criminal jury trials in our District, which are expected to begin on September 14, 2020. For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-19 In re: REVISED SCHEDULE FOR THE RESUMPTION OF CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS.

June 26, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed legislation authorizing the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings, with such legislation requiring the Chief Judge to reassess conditions every ninety days.  The attached General Order makes the findings necessary to reauthorize the use of video conferencing, or alternatively telephone conferencing, in this District.
   
 For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-18  In re: CARES ACT REAUTHORIZATION TO USE VIDEO CONFERENCING OR TELEPHONE CONFERENCING.

June 5, 2020

General Order 2020-17 updates the Court's temporary restrictions regarding entry to the Courthouses in our District during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-17 IN re: UPDATE TO COURTHOUSE ENTRY RESTRICTIONS.

May 26, 2020

General Order 2020-16 outlines the anticipated timeline for the phased expansion of Court Operations in our District, which is expected to begin on June 11, 2020.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-16 In re: PHASED EXPANSION OF COURT OPERATIONS.

May 18, 2020

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 983, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has issued an order providing extensions to certain deadlines relating to the administrative and civil judicial asset forfeiture proceedings within this District.  Such order was issued upon motion by the United States and in response to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, to include the health risks and endangerment to the life and safety of government asset forfeiture attorneys and staff who are responsible for reviewing cases, issuing notices, and processing claims.

For more detailed information, please see the Court’s Order (dated May 14, 2020) issued in Case No. 2:20-mc-9.

May 14, 2020

1)  In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to supplement steps previously taken by this Court to reduce the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 and to slow the spread of the disease, the Court finds it necessary and appropriate to adopt a face covering and social distancing policy for all Courthouse employees, contractors, and visitors.

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-14 In re: FACE COVERINGS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING IN COURTHOUSES ACROSS THE DISTRICT

2)  In response to recent developments, to include the Court’s increased capabilities to conduct remote proceedings and thereby reduce the risk that all Courthouses in the District would be rendered unusable at the same time, the Court has determined that it is no longer necessary for the U.S. Courthouse in Newport News to serve as the Emergency Judicial Center for the District, as was previously directed by General Order No. 2020-10.  As such, beginning on May 26, 2020, the U.S. Courthouse in Newport News will be reopened to the public and to all employees, subject to the same restrictions on proceedings and visitors as all other Courthouses in the District.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-15 In re: CESSATION OF THE U.S. COURTHOUSE IN NEWPORT NEWS AS THE DISTRICT’S EMERGENCY JUDICIAL CENTER.

April 16, 2020

In light of the Court’s prior authorization of the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings, the Court now authorizes the U.S. Probation Office to make a defendant’s pretrial services report available to counsel in an electronic format in the same manner that Presentence Reports are currently made available to a defendant’s counsel and an attorney for the government. 

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-13 In re: ELECTRONIC ACCESS TO BOND REPORTS.

April 15, 2020

All civil and criminal in-person proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, including court appearances, trials, hearings, settlement conferences, and naturalization ceremonies scheduled to occur through June 10, 2020, with the exception of critical or emergency proceedings, are POSTPONED, subject to the conditions set forth in this General Order. The instant General Order does not postpone any remote proceedings scheduled by a presiding judge in any civil or criminal case.

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-12 In re: UPDATES TO THE MODIFICATIONS OF COURT OPERATIONS AND EXTENSION OF THE POSTPONEMENT OF IN-PERSON PROCEEDINGS.

Norfolk/Newport News Specific General Order Continuing Matters Set for from May 4–June 10, 2020, to July 6–August 12, 2020
Richmond Specific General Order Continuing Matters Set for May 7, 2020, to July 9, 2020

April 6, 2020

Consistent with this Court’s prior General Order authorizing video teleconferencing (2020-09), the Court adopts a temporary policy for remote proceedings and public access to such remote proceedings, which will be accomplished through toll-free telephone access.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-11 In re: TEMPORARY POLICY FOR REMOTE PROCEEDINGS AND PUBLIC ACCESS TO SUCH PROCEEDINGS.

March 30, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Courthouse in Newport News shall be repurposed as the Emergency Judicial Center (EJC) for the Eastern District of Virginia, serving as a “last resort” location for Court proceedings or other emergency functions, to be activated if, and only if, all other Courthouses (Alexandria, Norfolk, and Richmond) are rendered unusable at the same time.  As such, beginning on April 1, 2020, and until further order by this Court, the U.S. Courthouse in Newport News will be closed to the public and to all employees, unless activated for EJC proceedings.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-10 In re: DESIGNATION OF THE U.S. COURTHOUSE IN NEWPORT NEWS AS THE DISTRICT’S EMERGENCY JUDICIAL CENTER.

March 30, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed legislation authorizing the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings.  Pursuant to such Congressional authorization, the attached Order makes the findings necessary to implement video teleconferencing, or alternatively telephone conferencing, in this District.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-09 In re: AUTHORIZATION TO USE VIDEO TELECONFERENCING OR TELEPHONE CONFERENCING PURSUANT TO THE CARES ACT.

March 27, 2020

Drop Box Filing

In conjunction with yesterday’s General Order 2020-08 (see below) the Clerk’s Office counters are closed to the public until further notice, to minimize personal interactions.  The public may use the drop boxes during hours when the courthouses are open to the public. Federal employees with building access may use the drop boxes during the evening or weekend hours as well.  Clerk’s Office staff retrieve documents from the drop boxes at 9:00 AM each day that the Court is open.
Location / Building Hours
Drop Box Filing Procedures
Drop Box Information Form
Payment Information
Local Rule 83.1 (M) Certification for Pro Se Litigants

March 26, 2020

In order to further reduce person-to-person contact in our Courthouses, the Clerk’s Office public counters shall be CLOSED until further notice, effective Monday, March 30, 2020.  Members of the public will retain access to the drop boxes at or near the entrances of each of our Courthouses to deposit filings during business hours, and a phone will be available near each drop box so that filers can speak to someone in the Clerk’s Office.  The Clerk’s Office staff will remain available by telephone to answer outside calls made by counsel and litigants.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-08 In re: TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF CLERK’S OFFICE PUBLIC COUNTERS.

March 24, 2020

This General Order supplements General Orders 2020-02 and 2020-03.

All civil and criminal in-person proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, including court appearances, trials, hearings, and settlement conferences, scheduled to occur through May 1, 2020, with the exception of critical or emergency proceedings, are POSTPONED and CONTINUED, subject to the conditions set forth in this General Order.  Additionally, the Court has updated its temporary restrictions regarding visitors to our courthouses.

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-07 In re: EXTENSION TO THE MODIFICATIONS OF COURT OPERATIONS: SUPPLEMENT TO GENERAL ORDERS 2020-02 and 2020-03.

March 23, 2020

This General Order provides more detailed speedy trial findings regarding the temporary suspension of criminal jury trials and grand jury proceedings, as previously ordered in General Orders 2020-02 and 2002-03.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-06, In re: ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER REGARDING COMPUTATION OF TIME UNDER THE SPEEDY TRIAL ACT, 18 U.S.C. § 3161.

March 20, 2020

All non-case related outside events and gatherings are postponed until further notice.  All naturalization proceedings scheduled through May 1, 2020, are postponed. 

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-04 In re: COURT OPERATIONS UNDER THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES CREATED BY THE OUTBREAK OF CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19): POSTPONEMENT OF OUTSIDE EVENTS AND TEMPORARY POSTPONEMENT OF NATURALIZATION PROCEEDINGS.

This General Order, and all prior General Orders associated with COVID-19, are available on PACER at Case No. 2:20mc7.

March 16, 2020

Starting March 17th and continuing through March 31st, the Court has suspended all criminal and civil proceedings in each of our courthouses, with the exception of: (1) critical or emergency criminal and civil matters; and (2) any proceeding expressly excepted by order of the presiding judge.

Additionally, the Court has temporarily restricted certain visitors to our courthouses, to include those who have recently traveled to certain places with high levels of the virus, and those who have been, or are in close contact with a person who has been, instructed to self-quarantine by a physician or local health official.

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-03 In re: COURT OPERATIONS UNDER THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES CREATED BY THE OUTBREAK OF CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19): TEMPORARY CONTINUANCE OF COURT PROCEEDINGS AND RESTRICTIONS ON VISITORS TO COURTHOUSES.

March 13, 2020

Starting Monday, March 16, 2020 and continuing through April 17, 2020, all civil and criminal (grand and petit) jury empanelments, jury trials, and grand jury proceedings before any district or magistrate judge in any courthouse in the Eastern District of Virginia are CONTINUED until further Order of the Court, with the exception of the sessions of Grand Juries 20-1 and 20-2, which will continue in the Alexandria courthouse as scheduled.

For detailed information please see General Order 2020-02 In re: COURT OPERATIONS UNDER THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES CREATED BY THE OUTBREAK OF CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19): JURY SELECTIONS, JURY TRIALS, AND GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS.

March 12, 2020

All misdemeanor, traffic, and petty offense dockets scheduled in all Divisions of this Court from March 16, 2020, through April 30, 2020, are hereby CONTINUED.

Please see General Order No.2020-01 In re: COURT OPERATIONS UNDER THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES CREATED BY THE OUTBREAK OF CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19): MISDEMEANOR, TRAFFIC, AND PETTY OFFENSE DOCKETS FOR ALL DIVISIONS OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA.

Norfolk/Newport News Specific General Order Continuing Misdemeanor Dockets March 16, 2020, Through April 30, 2020

Richmond Specific General Order Continuing Misdemeanor Dockets March 16, 2020, Through April 30, 2020

Alexandria Specific General Order Continuing Misdemeanor Dockets March 16, 2020, Through April 30, 2020

March 10, 2020

Given concerns about the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and precautions recommended by the CDC in areas with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Court has decided to suspend non-case related outside events, tours, and other gatherings in our courthouses. The Court has also decided to postpone all naturalization ceremonies for the remainder of March 2020, and will decide in the near future whether to resume naturalization ceremonies in April or postpone them further. If you have questions about the decision to postpone these naturalization ceremonies, please contact U.S. Customs and Immigration Services.

The Court thanks you for your patience and understanding as we all work through these challenging times and seek to protect the health of all courthouse visitors and occupants.

Chief Judge Mark S. Davis