Courts to Continue to Operate in Tier 4 Areas
With more restrictive measures introduced to curb the spread of a new COVID-19 strain, trials in England will continue as normal.
UK courts have insisted that operations in Tier 4 areas of England will continue as normal despite expanded restrictions having been rolled out over the weekend.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service stated that buildings in Tier 4 areas will continue to operate in accordance with typical coronavirus-secure guidelines, and that there are currently no plans to change scheduled hearings. Individuals involved in keeping the justice system running, or fulfilling a legal obligation such as jury service, will be allowed to attend court and travel even if their area is subject to Tier 4 restrictions.
“Courts & Tribunals will continue to operate as they have in recent months, including in Tier 4 areas,” justice minister Chris Philp tweeted on Sunday. “This is because Justice is an essential service and tens of millions of £s have been spent in the last few months making Courts & Tribunals Covid safe”.
The safety of courts continues to pose an issue, as it was found on Friday that 17 people had tested positive for COVID-19 following an outbreak at Oxford Combined Court Centre. HMCTS stated that the court building had been “deep cleaned” and could resume normal operations.
Following the discovery of a new strain of COVID-19 in England that may be as much as 70% more infectious than the original virus, the UK government has rushed to respond. While more than 30 nations have blocked travel from the country pending a plan to deal with the new strain, the “Tier 4” lockdown level has been introduced in England as a more severe level of restriction on top of the previous three-tier system.
Under Tier 4, non-essential businesses including shops, hairdressers, and leisure and entertainment venues are required to close, with residents in affected areas urged to stay at home save for exercise or travelling for the purposes of education or childcare.
Roughly 17 million people in London and in parts of the south east are now subject to Tier 4 restrictions following their introduction on Saturday.