WEARING FACEMASKS IN THE COURTROOM: A MATTER OF CHOICE FOR BOTH THE JUDGE AND OTHER PARTICIPANTS (UNLESS ACTUALLY SPEAKING)

The Senior and Deputy Senior Presiding Judges at the Royal Courts of Justice issued guidance on the 17th November 2020 which replaced earlier guidance on this topic.  The guidance deals with wearing facemasks in the court room.

THE GUIDANCE

“Wearing facemasks in courts

This guidance replaces guidance issued on 27 May 2020 on this topic.
Cases are being heard in courtrooms where social-distancing requirements are in place and there is no requirement upon anyone to wear facemasks.
Court users may wish to wear a mask in the courtroom. There is no difficulty with this, even when socially distanced, as Judges and magistrates understand
that it is important that court users feel comfortable taking part in the proceedings, whilst bearing in mind that anyone who is speaking in court must
be audible.
It is likely that witnesses will be asked to remove their mask while giving evidence.
There is no prohibition upon judges or magistrates wearing facemasks, even when socially distanced. Magistrates who are not presiding may wish to wear a
facemask for the entire duration of hearing. Judges and presiding justices may wish to wear a facemask during periods when they are not speaking.
The wearing of facemasks on the bench is a matter of personal choice for each judge or magistrate.”