U.K. Jury Trials to Restart This Month, With Social Distancing
Old Bailey, right, stands close to the Central Criminal Court, left, in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

U.K. Jury Trials to Restart This Month, With Social Distancing

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(Bloomberg) --

U.K. jury trials will resume as soon as May 18, nearly two months after the coronavirus halted most criminal cases.

The new trials will still have 12 jurors and use social distancing and other measures to ensure safety, Ian Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, said Monday in a statement.

“It is important that the administration of justice continues to function whenever it is possible in an environment which is consistent with the safety of all those involved,” he said.

The decision to restart criminal trials comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes tentative steps to reopen the country. In a televised address Sunday evening, Johnson encouraged people who can’t work at home to return to their occupations.

“It is reassuring that efforts to restart jury trials have involved a painstaking and cautious approach, that prioritizes practical measures to ensure the safety of all those involved in the delivery of criminal justice,” Amanda Pinto, chair of the Bar Council, said in a statement. “The decision has not been made lightly.”

Later this week in London, a case involving the U.K. Serious Fraud Office will resume with closing arguments. The bribery trial was among the first put on hold amid the outbreak of the virus.

The proceedings were moved to London’s Old Bailey from a smaller court to ensure there is more space for social distancing.

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