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HMCTS – Plan B: 09.12.21

Plan B

Last night, the Prime Minister announced a period of further COVID-19 restrictions as the Government moves to its Plan B. The latest restrictions sit alongside those in place for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The main features of the Government’s Plan B are:

  • Reintroducing guidance to work from home, if you can, from 13 December.
  • Legally mandating face coverings in most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas from 10 December – with exceptions where it’s not practical, including when eating, drinking, exercising or singing.
  • NHS COVID passes for nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people.
  • Daily testing for people identified as a contact of coronavirus case – with isolation required only for people who test positive.

Keeping the justice system running

The courts and tribunals are an essential public service and access to justice remains of critical importance, especially for some of the most vulnerable in society.

All of us who work in our courts and tribunals – HMCTS staff, judges, magistrates, legal professionals, our partners and parties involved in hearings, including jurors – are essential to running the justice system.

As such, we will keep our courts and tribunals open and running as we have done throughout of the course of the pandemic. The judiciary fully support this approach.

Safety measures in our courts and tribunals

I understand this is something we had all hoped to avoid and I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that our buildings are COVID-secure. We continue to follow public health guidance and already have a suite of safety measures in place:

  • Regularly updated risk assessments in line with public health guidance
  • Sanitising stations, extra cleaning arrangements and reduced footfall in our buildings
  • Extra space created through portacabins and Nightingale courts
  • Remote hearing technology for those times when a judge decides it’s appropriate and in the interests of justice to use.
  • A requirement for all court visitors to wear masks in communal areas, unless exempt

These will remain for the foreseeable future.

Working together

As always, individuals are responsible for their own safety – we all have a role to play and must take our personal responsibilities for safety seriously. I ask that you and your colleagues follow all Government safety advice and adhere to our safety measures if you visit one of our buildings.

Anyone who develops symptoms, has a positive PCR or lateral flow test, or is required to self-isolate should not attend our buildings and should follow the latest government advice. We continue to recommend that those of you attending our buildings to take regular lateral flow tests, unless you have COVID symptoms, in which case you need to isolate and take a PCR test. Please follow the most recent advice on self-isolation.

You can find all our full 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 – HMCTS want to hear from you.

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