Two court buildings in Blackpool have been closed after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19.
Hearings at Blackpool County and Magistrates’ Courts were halted at 16.00 on Friday and the two buildings were closed for deep cleaning. While the courts were due to reopen for normal business today, a ‘precautionary decision’ has been made not to allow the public in.
Cases in the county court will continue to be heard remotely and cases in the magistrates’ court are in the process of being relisted.
According to an announcement by HM Courts & Tribunals Service, the staff member who tested positive worked at the Blackpool County and Magistrates’ Courts between 24 August and 4 September. It advised all court users who used the buildings during this period to monitor their own health.
The news follows the full reopening of Manchester Crown Court on 1 September. At least eight people tested positive for coronavirus after the court centre was first closed on 6 August.
Last week, Northern Circuit leader Lisa Roberts QC reminded lawyers that it is compulsory to wear face masks in public areas of all court buildings.
‘I have received a number of complaints about counsel sporting chin-hugging, nose-revealing, ear-dangling masks,’ she said. ‘There are neither use nor ornament. Please wear them correctly – like you do when you visit the shops.’
Law Society president Simon Davis said: ‘It is absolutely vital that HMCTS maintains clear and immediate communications with solicitors and other court users on what is happening in courts and tribunals buildings – especially if a staff member has displayed any Covid-19 symptoms.
‘Risk assessments should be readily available for all court users as soon as they are requested and local communications systems must be in place to notify of any potential outbreaks or safety concerns. HMCTS must also have contingency plans in place so they can respond quickly to such outbreaks – closing courts if needed and reassigning listed cases to other buildings in the courts and tribunals service.’