Lawyers who test positive for Covid-19 can have exemptions from latest regulations imposing a new legal duty to self-isolate, the Ministry of Justice confirmed today.
Health protection regulations which came into force for England on Monday state that people who test positive for Covid-19 or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus after 28 September must self-isolate.
However, a person can come out of self-isolation ‘to fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or participating in legal proceedings’.
The Gazette asked the government to confirm if lawyers, court staff or anyone required to attend court are exempt from the latest regulations.
The Ministry of Justice said there is a longstanding exemption to allow people to participate in important court business despite lockdown measures.
Seeking further clarification, the Gazette asked:
- If a lawyer who tested positive for Covid-19 after 28 September would be breaking the law if they came out of self-isolation to go to court?
- If they were informed they have to self-isolate because they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 after 28 September, did the exemption mean they would not be breaking the law if they went to court?
The Gazette was told the exemption meant lawyers would not be breaking the law in either scenario. However, the ministry highlighted guidance on going to court during the outbreak, first published in April, which states: ‘You should not go to a court or tribunal if you’re self-isolating, have symptoms of coronavirus or are extremely vulnerable. Contact your court or tribunal to let them know.’
*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.