Covid-19, LCCSA News

HMCTS response to return to Plan A in England – Jan 2022

PUBLISHED January 20, 2022

On behalf of HMCTS, see below:

HMCTS update on Criminal Courts in England and wales

Yesterday, the government announced that England is returning to Plan A COVID-19 restrictions from 27 January 2022.

When the country moved to Plan B restrictions in December 2021, we already had a number of additional safety measures in place such as a requirement to wear face coverings in our buildings. This means that there will be no changes to the way our courts and tribunals operate and we will continue to have the following in place:

  • Face coverings are required in the public and communal areas of our buildings, unless exempt
  • Screens or barriers are in place where people come into close proximity with others they do not normally meet
  • Regular rigorous cleaning regimes are in place, including touchpoint cleaning
  • Sanitising stations are located throughout our buildings
  • Technology to conduct hearings remotely, where a judge decides it is in the interests of justice to do so
  • We ask court users with any symptoms, a positive PCR or lateral flow test to stay away from our buildings
  • We manage any cases we identify quickly and robustly which includes notifying any close contacts

We’ll continue to encourage all court visitors to take regular lateral flow tests, unless they have COVID symptoms, in which case they need to isolate and take a PCR test.

In Wales, some public restrictions are also being lifted as of 28 January, but none of these will affect our operations. There are no changes to restrictions in Scotland.

This is a positive step, but we have not yet seen the end of the global pandemic, nor has the risk of COVID-19 transmission gone. We will continue to meet public health requirements in our buildings and regularly review our approach in line with public health advice and Government guidance.

While we are doing everything we can to make sure our courts and tribunals are safe for all those who use them, I am also asking everyone to play their part and continue to take responsibility for their own safety. Please follow all Government safety advice, including wearing a face covering in our buildings, wash or sanitise your hands regularly and encourage others to do the same.

You can find all our latest COVID guidance for attending a court or tribunal on our website. We are all working hard to keep all our court users safe, and if you have any feedback, we’ve published an escalation route for professional court users if you have any concerns – we want to hear from you.

The last two years have been challenging for all of us and I am buoyed by the knowledge that we have worked together to keep justice going throughout the pandemic – and I know we are all committed to keep doing so. We will continue to hold regular meetings with you – our colleagues in the criminal justice system – to keep you up to date with our approach and listen to your feedback.

So thank you for your continued support and cooperation in keeping our courts and tribunals operating – and the wheels of justice turning.