Ventilation in courtrooms should not concern users, according to the government’s response to worries about stuffy courts, saying the risk of transmitting coronavirus through the air is ‘extremely low’.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service said nothing beyond what is normally expected in workplaces is needed to regulate air flow and ventilation. Where normal air-handling systems are in operation – or where windows can be opened – rooms should be considered safe, it said.
In a letter to the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), HMCTS said it had consulted public health officials, who advised that the risk of transmission of Covid-19 through an airborne route is ‘extremely low’.
The CBA had raised concerns with the government about stuffy courtrooms, and asked whether the fact that parties often speak loudly in a court setting had been taken into account. It was assured that the risk assessments for the courts address the airflow management system.
Jury trials have now re-started in Reading, Warwick, Winchester, Manchester Minshull Street, Bristol, Cardiff and the Old Bailey. In her weekly message, chair of the CBA Caroline Goodwin QC said court buildings ‘look and feel very different’ and ‘the effort by the staff has been nothing short of impressive’.
‘If someone were to ask me would I go into court and conduct a hearing. The answer would be yes,’ she said.
*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.