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Face coverings encouraged in English courts from Monday July 27

The rules, which come into effect from Monday July 27, are being imposed to minimise the risk of coronavirus in HMCTS buildings.

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FW Pomeroy’s Statue of Lady Justice atop the Central Criminal Court building at the Old Bailey, London. A legal challenge by women’s groups who claim the Crown Prosecution Service has “raised the bar” on charging decisions in rape cases has reached the High Court (PA)

FW Pomeroy’s Statue of Lady Justice atop the Central Criminal Court building at the Old Bailey, London. A legal challenge by women’s groups who claim the Crown Prosecution Service has “raised the bar” on charging decisions in rape cases has reached the High Court (PA)

FW Pomeroy’s Statue of Lady Justice atop the Central Criminal Court building at the Old Bailey, London. A legal challenge by women’s groups who claim the Crown Prosecution Service has “raised the bar” on charging decisions in rape cases has reached the High Court (PA)

Members of the public attending courts and tribunals in England are being asked to wear face coverings from next week, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has said.

The rules, which come into effect from Monday July 27, are being imposed to minimise the risk of coronavirus in HMCTS buildings, though people may need to temporarily remove masks for identification purposes.

Those speaking or giving evidence in the courtroom may also be made to remove their face coverings by a judge, but must maintain a strict two-metre distance.

Exemptions also apply to people with disabilities or health issues that make wearing masks difficult and the deaf, who may need to read another person’s lips.

Courtrooms themselves will “continue to be covered by the current guidance” which says that court users may wear face coverings whilst in the courtroom, HMCTS said.

The guidance refers to the use of face coverings in English courts and tribunals only.

People attending buildings in Wales and Scotland are also permitted to wear them, but they are not mandatory.

The announcement comes the day before the use of face coverings becomes mandatory in shops, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets in England.

PA