Lawyers should not be permitted to break quarantine to go to court, the Law Society warned today, saying the waiver 'puts lives at risk'.
Earlier this week the Bar Council announced that 'after significant lobbying' the goverment has confirmed that barristers, solicitors and other court users returning from non-exempt countries – and who, therefore, have to self-isolate for 14 days - can break quarantine to attend a tribunal or hearing.
However Law Society president Simon Davis said that allowing lawyers to break quarantine will increase the risk of Covid-19 transmission and pose a 'significant danger to court users'.
'I would urge anybody in this situation to consider fully the potential health implications for other court users if they were to break their self-isolation period to attend in person,' he said.
'This measure poses an even greater risk to BAME practitioners and court users, and those with underlying health conditions or who have vulnerable family members – who all already fall in higher risk categories for Covid-19.'
Earlier this month, HM Courts & Tribunals Service confirmed that eight staff members and contractors at Manchester Crown Court had tested positive for Covid-19. The court remains closed.
Davis said communications around any future outbreaks must be much clearer.
'It is vital solicitors and other court users know what is happening in courts and tribunals buildings at all times – especially if a staff member has displayed any Covid-19 symptoms… Allowing people to break quarantine to attend court and not having effective systems in place to communicate outbreaks in the court puts lives at risk.'
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.