Old Supreme Courtroom refitted for Covid-19 safety
A courtroom has been refitted to cut the risk of coronavirus transmission so Supreme Court trials can restart.
Partitions were installed to shield jurors, staff and lawyers who use the Supreme Court in Sessions House.
Trials are expected to resume next week after a months-long break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Ministry of Public Works spokesman said: “The administration of justice and the provision of timely, fair trials for defendants is of critical importance to the people of Bermuda.
“To that end, the team from the Ministry of Public Works has installed specially designed wooden frames with Plexiglas partitions in Supreme Court Number 1 that meet the necessary Covid-19 safety guidelines.
“These modifications will ensure the safety of all participants involved and permit court proceedings to resume.”
Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons said at the arraignments session this week that protective shields to separate jurors and lawyers would allow trials to start again safely.
She added that the barriers would mean that witnesses, lawyers and jurors would not be required to wear face masks during court proceedings, but that they could if they wanted to.
Mrs Justice Simmons told the court: “We have our first trial date on November 9, we have eight trials now fixed and we expect them to go on following that.”
The Supreme Court left Sessions House before renovations started last year.
Jury trials continued in a modified Magistrates’ Court courtroom in the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building on Court Street until March, when the courts were closed in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Most cases have since been allowed to resume with safety precautions in place, but none of the island’s courtrooms were suitable for jury trials.