Those attending courts and tribunals in England will be asked to wear face coverings from next Monday, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) announced on Thursday.
The new regulations, which come will be imposed from July 27, are intended to reduce the risk of coronavirus being spread throughout HMCTS buildings, with allowance for temporary removal for identification purposes.
From Monday 27 July 2020, we’re encouraging all court and tribunals users to wear a face covering in our buildings in England unless they have valid reason not to. This minimises the #coronavirus risks throughout our buildings. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/ISKghwra8l— HMCTS (@HMCTSgovuk) July 23, 2020
Those speaking or giving evidence in the courtroom can also remove their face coverings if ordered by a judge but must maintain a two-meter distance from others.
Those who are disabled or have health issues which can be obstructed by wearing a face covering, or who may need to use lip read, will also be exempt from the rule.
If one is eating, drinking, or taking medicine they will also be allowed to remove them.
Courtrooms will “continue to be covered by the current guidance” which enforces the wearing of face coverings whilst in the room, HMCTS said.
The guidance does not refer to courts in the rest of the UK. Although in Scotland and Wales they are permitted but not mandatory.
The announcement comes as the UK introduces legislation that makes face masks in shops, banks, takeaways, post offices, sandwich shops, and supermarkets mandatory in England.