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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 14 July, 2020

Court sessions limited to two hours a day, due to 'additional' safety measures

The Courts Service were “unaware” until yesterday that the issue was discussed in the Dáil.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE COURTS SERVICE is limiting time in court to just two hours a day, after public health advice given to TDs about whether they can conduct committees at the moment.

TDs were told they can spend no longer than two hours in the Dáil chamber – even if each person is at least two metres apart -  in order to comply with public health advice. If they spend more than 2 hours together indoors, they would be considered close contacts.

Politicians have raised concerns that this two-hour advice has been unclear, and some workers have been returning to work on the basis that they only need to stay two metres apart.

In a statement this evening, the Courts Service said; “The Chief Justice and the Presidents of the Courts are aware of health advice given to the Houses of the Oireachtas concerning persons who may be in the same room, even though practising social distancing, for a period of in excess of two hours.”

The Courts Service were unaware, until the matter became public yesterday, of what appears to be additional safety considerations beyond those already published.

“The plans which had been devised by the judiciary and the Courts Service to expand the number of physical hearings in our courts had taken full account of all published advice. 

The Courts Service have sought urgent further advices on this matter as it clearly has the potential to affect the conduct of court hearings or sessions likely to involve judges and registrars, together with others, being a courtroom for more than two hours in a day.

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While awaiting this, all court sittings will last for no more than two hours in each day. Remote hearings which will continue as planned.

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