UK courts to remain operational in nation-wide lockdown

Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service deemed present safety measures to be adequate in handling the new COVID-19 mutant

UK courts to remain operational in nation-wide lockdown

Courts in the UK will remain operational for the duration of the nation-wide lockdown driven by the emergence of the new COVID-19 mutation , according to Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS).

The mutation was first discovered in the UK in mid-December, and several areas were placed under Tier 4 restrictions as a result. The UK government announced the national lockdown on Monday.

Nonetheless, HMCTS has deemed the safety measures presently adopted by the courts to be adequate in handling the virus variant.

“Public health experts have confirmed that existing COVID-19-secure arrangements remain sufficient in dealing with the challenges provided by the new mutation of the virus,” HMCTS said in its weekly operational summary. “The justice system will remain open as an essential public service.”

HMCTS said that court buildings are not considered “close contact settings,” and face-to-face proceedings would push through as necessary. In such circumstances, the lawyers involved would be allowed to stay overnight outside of their homes as per lockdown regulations.

“We’re making the biggest single investment in court estate maintenance for more than 20 years and spending an additional £110m on a range of emergency measures to tackle the impact of COVID-19,” HMCTS said.

Among these measures are the launch of Nightingale courts to help address the case backlog accumulated over the past year and the hiring of additional staff. More Portakabin units have been installed as well, along with Plexiglass barriers.

HMCTS also emphasised the importance of keeping to established health and safety guidelines.

“The suite of controls we already have in place will continue to be enforced. The way to control this virus is the same, whatever the variant. It will not spread if we avoid close contact with others. Wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance from others and reduce your social contacts,” HMCTS said.

The Law Society Gazette reported that jury trials can be held in more than 250 courtrooms in the UK.

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