Non-essential in-person court proceedings in North Carolina will be halted starting Monday for 30 days due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court announced Friday.

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley said in a news release that the pause is necessary to protect the health and safety of court personnel as well as the public.

"Throughout the pandemic, we have moved an unprecedented amount of court work online, including hearings," Beasley said in the news release. "Those efforts will allow us to limit in-person proceedings for the next few weeks while making sure our courts stay available to serve the public."

According to the news release, since the onset of the pandemic, judicial branch officials and employees have reported 291 confirmed positive cases. In addition, more than half of North Carolina's county courthouses have been partially or completely closed due to COVID-19, and 11 of those closures have occurred this week.

"I am gravely concerned with the recent surge in positive cases, but with this new directive, I am confident that potential exposures will be significantly reduced if we work together to adhere to health and safety guidelines," Beasley said.

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