Face masks should be worn in public areas of court building in Scotland from next week, under new guidance from Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service.

As business on court premises starts to increase, SCTS continues to review the arrangements in place to promote health and safety, and from Monday 31 August, it is asking all court and tribunal users to wear a face covering in public and communal areas of its buildings. People should bring their own face covering if they can, though suitable face coverings can be provided if required.

It remains the case that members of the public cannot attend courts or tribunal buildings at this time due to COVID-19, unless they are directly participating in proceedings. 

All those using court premises should continue to maintain 2m physical distancing: the introduction of face coverings is an addition to this safeguard, not a replacement for it. 

People who, under government guidance, are exempt from having to wear a mask in other locations such as in shops or on public transport, will also be exempt in court buildings. 

Otherwise court and tribunal users are strongly advised to wear face coverings when entering and leaving the building, while moving from one part of the building to another, or while waiting in communal areas such as reception points, witness rooms or outside a courtroom. 

Face coverings can be removed, if desired: 

  • within the courtroom or hearing room (the judge may request this of someone while they are participating in the business of the court or tribunal); 
  • by staff within SCTS or COPFS offices, defence agents' accommodation or in the office spaces for staff of other organisations based in SCTS premises where robust physical distancing measures are in place. 

SCTS chief executive Eric McQueen commented: "The SCTS remains committed to protecting the health and safety of all those who need to attend court and tribunal premises. 

"In order to reduce the risk of infection spread, we are strongly advising all users and visitors to our buildings, to wear a face covering to protect themselves and others. This will help us minimise the risk for those who are required to attend court or tribunal hearings."