Release date: 20 July 2020
The West Sussex Coroners Court, in Crawley, has now reopened following a thorough risk assessment.
At the start of the Coronavirus the Court had to be closed to the public when restrictions were introduced in March. However the Coroner has continued to hold Documentary Inquests, where families had expressed a wish that the case proceed in their absence, at her Office in Chichester. As restrictions have now eased, the decision has been made to reopen the Court as soon as possible.
Key measures have been put in place to protect families, staff and other attendees with most cases now being held in the bigger Court room in Crawley to maintain safe social distancing.
Families have been told that they may wear a face covering in Court, but witnesses will be required to remove theirs when they give evidence.
Timings will be staggered to allow for the cleaning and airing of the Court.
Families and interested persons will now also be offered the opportunity to have a remote hearing, although the Coroner will still be sat in the Court during the proceedings and the Court will remain open to the public and press.
West Sussex Senior Coroner Penelope Schofield said: “Although documentary hearings have continued to be held throughout the pandemic, we do understand that families wish to have a presence at the hearing and we are pleased that we can now accommodate their wish.”