HMCTS asks court users to wear face coverings from today

HMCTS asks all court users in England to wear face coverings in court and tribunals buildings from today (27 July).

27 Jul 2020

All court users in England are being asked by HM Courts & Tribunal Services (HMCTS) to wear face coverings in court and tribunals buildings from today (27 July).

Individuals are exempt if they have a “practical reason” not to wear one, such as a disability or health issue or it causes the user severe distress; or where a deaf person needs to read an individual’s lips.

Face coverings can be removed when the individual is speaking but the two-metre social distancing rule must still be strictly adhered to.

But David Greene, vice president of the Law Society, expressed concern that courts are getting busier.

He said: “It is difficult in many court buildings to maintain social distancing in public areas.

“While some buildings are more spacious and may have better ventilation, for most courts this is not the case and the risk of contracting covid-19 is still very real.”

He said it will be necessary to maintain social distancing within the court building for some time, “so whether masks are worn or not should not be a reason to reduce or abandon social distancing”.

Greene said: “The safety and health of our members and all court users, including staff, continues to be of paramount concern. Most, if not all, of the courts that were closed during the lockdown have now reopened and we would ask members to continue observing social distancing rules.”

He encouraged solicitors who see any “concerning practice… on the ground” to report it to HMCTS.