HMCTS has updated its guidance on “Keeping court and tribunal buildings safe, secure and clean”, and is now asking that users wear a face covering when attending court and tribunal buildings in England. The guidance states that users can ask a member of staff for a face covering if needed, but HMCTS requests that users bring their own.
There is no need wear a face covering if there is a practical reason not to. For example:
- the user has a disability or health issue that makes it difficult;
- wearing one will cause severe distress;
- a deaf person the user is supporting needs to read his/her lips; or
- the user is eating, drinking or taking medicine.
Children under the age of 11 (in England) do not need to wear a face covering.
If a user has a reason why he/she cannot wear a face covering, the guidance suggests wearing a lanyard with an exemption card or carrying an exemption card. Exemption cards are available to download on Gov.uk and HMCTS has also provided an example exemption card on its website.
Users should note that they might be asked to temporarily remove their face covering for identification purposes. If the user is presenting evidence in the courtroom, the judge or magistrate may also ask them to take their face covering off temporarily.
Face coverings for people using court and tribunal buildings in Wales and Scotland remain optional. To read the guidance in full, click here.