UK: Covid-19 testing extended to frontline court staff and judges

The UK Law Gazette reports….

HM Courts & Tribunals Service says decisions on personal protective equipment are in line with official guidance following enquiries by the Gazette about what measures are being taken to protect staff at courts being kept open during the pandemic.

There are currently 160 open courts and 116 staffed courts as HMCTS tries to keep the justice system going during the pandemic. As concerns continue within the profession about the safety of those working within the system, the Gazette asked how many court staff have been given face masks and gloves, and been been tested for Covid-19.

HMCTS said all decisions on personal protective equipment and the cleaning of court buildings are in line with the latest government and Public Health England guidance. Access to testing has been extended to frontline workers including operational HMCTS staff and the judiciary.

More than 8,000 laptops are being provided to enable staff to work from home. HMCTS said its 18,700-strong workforce is working in exceptional circumstances to keep the justice system running, and it is committed to supporting critical worker staff by enabling them to work from home, work flexible hours or maintain social distancing in a physical location.

A HMCTS spokesperson said: ‘Our staff and the judiciary deserve huge credit for keeping the wheels of justice turning during this unprecedented time and we are grateful to all involved for the way they have embraced new ways of working. Courts remain open, virtual hearings have increased and remote access for journalists has been scaled up to ensure everyone remains as safe as possible during this pandemic.’