Portsmouth Crown Court judge in isolation as staff member tests positive for Covid-19

A JUDGE and several members of staff at Portsmouth Crown Court are in self-isolation after a worker tested positive for Covid-19.

By Ben Fishwick
Friday, 28th August 2020, 3:34 pm
Updated Friday, 28th August 2020, 4:48 pm

A court service spokeswoman confirmed the single positive case today, a day after The News asked about the infection.

NHS Test and Trace contacted the worker to advise they needed a test, and this then proved positive.

The site has undergone a ‘deep clean’ and is still open, the spokeswoman said.

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Portsmouth Crown Court. Picture: César Moreno Huerta

Cases were being heard today in Portsmouth by one judge sitting in the crown court.

Eight members of staff and a judge are in self-isolation for 14 days.

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Just one crown courtroom is open today – down from two earlier this week.

A HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokeswoman said: ‘A member of staff tested positive after being contacted by NHS Test & Trace.

‘The court has undergone a deep clean and continues to operate normally.’

The building, Portsmouth Combined Court Centre, in Winston Churchill Avenue, also houses county and family courts.

An e-mail seen by The News and sent to barristers said ‘as much as the risk of any infection having been transmitted is real, it is nevertheless very low’.

The e-mail, from the CPS, added: ‘Although we would recommend that counsel who have attended Portsmouth CC in the last two weeks undertake a voluntary Covid-19 test.'

The e-mail said it was an usher who tested positive on August 27, and the court was deep cleaned today.

Manchester Crown Court was shut on August 6 after a positive test.

The site, at Crown Square, has seen eight people tested positive and remained shut for several weeks.

Current safety rules in court buildings insist people must wear face masks in corridors. They can be removed in courtrooms.

HMCTS has said it brought in an extra 150 cleaners into buildings across England and Wales.

Measures include ‘closing buildings where there are safety concerns,’ the HMCTS guidance said.

NHS Test and Trace operators ask people if they have had close contact with anyone other than in their household in the 48 hours before symptoms emerged and since they developed.

The government defines close contact as face-to-face contact less than one metre away, spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of someone, and travelling in a car or small vehicle with someone.

Courts in Portsmouth have closed off swathes of seating in public galleries and for solicitors and barristers in a bid to ensure social distancing measures.

Security staff ask visitors if they have had symptoms before they are permitted entry.

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