Maine nurse can leave home but must maintain 3ft distance from others, court rules

Kaci Hickox rides away from in Fort Kent, Maine. Photograph: Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Kaci Hickox rides away from in Fort Kent, Maine. Photograph: Robert F. Bukaty/AP

The Guardian – State obtains temporary court order forcing Kaci Hickox to follow CDC’s Ebola guidelines, but Hickox will not be subject to home quarantine

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The state of Maine released a temporary court order on Friday that places restrictions on the movements of a nurse who worked with Ebola patients in west Africa, but who has not shown any symptoms of the disease.

The court order allows Kaci Hickox to leave her home, but she may not go to public gatherings and must maintain a 3ft distance from other people.

In a decision issued on Friday morning, chief district court judge Charles C LaVerdiere wrote that the case had “critical implications for [Hickox’s] freedom”, and “the public’s right to be protected from the potential severe harm posed by transmission of a devastating disease”.

A further hearing will be held to determined the legality of the measures.

Maine officials had wanted to quarantine Hickox in her home until 10 November. Officials backed down after Hickox threatened legal action and hired two civil rights attorneys.

Hickox was stopped at Newark Liberty airport a week ago after she arrived from Sierra Leone, where she had been working for Doctors Without Borders caring for Ebola patients. Sierra Leone is one of the three west African countries worst affected by the disease.

The temporary order requires Hickox to abide by a set of restrictions that largely mirror guidelines laid down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She must stay in Fort Kent, and if she does travel, coordinate with health officials. She will be allowed to go outside, as she did during a bike ride on an isolated road on Thursday, but she must maintain a 3ft distance from others. She may not go to work or attend public gatherings, and must report her temperature and any symptoms to public health officials daily.

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