Court Operations during the COVID-19 Outbreak: Information about Hearings and Filings

Release Date: 
Fri, 03/04/2022

Updated November 4, 2022

Courthouse Indoor Mask Requirement Lifted; Masks May be Required in the Courtroom at the Discretion of the Assigned Judge

  • Indoor Mask Requirement Rescinded. Effective November 3, 2022, face masks will no longer be required for entering the courthouses or in common areas, per General Order 12-22. Individuals are free to wear masks based on personal preference, informed by their personal health risks.
    • Requiring the use of face masks inside individual courtrooms is subject to the discretion of the assigned judge.  Visit the chambers web page for your assigned judge for additional information.
    • Individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, testing positive for COVID-19 or exposed to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
    • The Courthouses are open to the public for scheduled public events and tours.
  • In-Person Proceedings. Restrictions on in-person proceedings were previously lifted. Trials, evidentiary hearings, and motions are proceeding in-person or virtually at the discretion of the assigned judge. Visit the chambers web page for your assigned judge for additional information.
  • Clerk’s Office Open to the Public. The public lobbies and intake counters are open in bankruptcy clerk's offices in Seattle and Tacoma. In addition to providing in-person services, Clerk's office staff continue to be available during business hours by phone, ECF help email and online chat . Unrepresented parties may  submit documents using the Court’s electronic filing portal or  the drop boxes located in the lobby of each courthouse. Note that the Clerk’s office is no longer accepting cash. Parties can make online payments, or send a money order or certified funds to the Clerk's office by mail.

U.S. Trustee Program Extends Telephonic or Video Section 341 Meetings

The U.S. Trustee Program has extended the requirement that section 341 meetings be conducted by telephone or video appearance to all cases filed during the period of the President's "Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak" issued March 13, 2020, and ending on the date that is 60 days after such declaration terminates. However, the U.S. Trustee may approve a request by a trustee in a particular case to continue the section 341 meeting to an in-person meeting in a manner that complies with local public health guidance, if the U.S. Trustee determines that an in-person examination of the debtor is required to ensure the completeness of the meeting or the protection of estate property. This policy may be revised at the discretion of the Director of the United States Trustee Program.  

Signature Requirements

The Court’s general order adopting interim procedures to clarify the need for a physical signature under Local Bankruptcy Rule 5005-1(d)(2) remains in effect until further order. General Order 2020-3 allows ECF filers to use digital software and other alternatives to demonstrate a signor's consent to a document prior to its electronic filing.