Face covering rules come into force for court users

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Face coverings will be mandatory in court buildings in England from Monday (27 July) in an effort to minimise COVID-19 related risks.

Individuals may be asked to temporarily remove their face covering for identification purposes. Court rooms themselves will continue to be covered by the current guidance which says that users may wear face coverings whilst in the courtroom.

However, when people are speaking or presenting evidence in the courtroom, face coverings may be removed (and judges or magistrates may ask for them to be removed), and while speaking without a face covering, 2 metres social distancing will be strictly observed.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has requested that those using court and tribunal buildings bring their own face covering wherever possible, but users can ask for a mask from a member of staff if they don’t have access to one. Those using court buildings who do not need to wear a face covering, if they have a practical reason not to, include the following:

  • they have a disability or health issue that makes it difficult
  • wearing one will cause the wearer severe distress
  • if a deaf person needs to read the individual’s lips (though speech-to-text apps should also be considered)
  • for eating, drinking or taking medicine.

Please note that this latest guidance refers to the use of face coverings in England only. People using court buildings in Wales and Scotland may also wear them, but they are not mandatory.