Following the recent Government announcement, you will be aware that with effect from 9 April 2021 home test kits are now available for everyone in England. HMCTS has been working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and since 8 March we have been piloting home tests via a collection service from some of our sites. We have already made progress towards rolling out home-test kits to all our court sites, with kits on order and expected to arrive on sites from mid-April.
We will continue to roll-out home-test kits for collection from all our sites alongside the Government’s initiative to make home-test kits available to everyone in England.
Background to Lateral Flow Testing (LFT)
We have been operating on-site testing stations at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Southwark Crown Court, Leicester Crown Court, Reading Crown Court, Leeds Combined Court, Winchester Combined Court and Northampton County Court Business Centre. To date, there have been no positive results returned.
Testing will supplement our existing COVID-secure measures, provide additional reassurance to staff and court users and help us identify asymptomatic people who need to self-isolate who would not otherwise be identified.
Home testing will allow court users to test themselves before coming to court, meaning those who are asymptomatic but test positive can follow NHS advice and not come to court. This will help to keep courts and tribunals safe by reducing the risk of exposure/transmission.
Testing will be voluntary. We’re proposing to offer staff, judiciary, contractors, jurors, professional court users (including legal professionals) who regularly access our buildings self-administered test kits to be used at home. Each box can be collected from the court or tribunal site and will include seven tests that will enable two tests a week to be taken for a three-and-a-half-week period.
The tests detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad. The sample runs along the surface of the pad, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependent on the presence of the virus.
Full guidance is provided with the kit. The kits will be available for collection in person from a designated collection point within the court.
Lateral flow tests detect whether the viral load for COVID-19 is high enough to identify whether an individual is likely to be infectious. The result of the test is valid at the point in time that the test is taken.
Once the test gives a result, individuals are expected to register their results via NHS Test and Trace. If the test gives a positive result, the court user will be required to follow the Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. If the test is negative, then the viral load is not indicative of an individual being infectious and they can carry on as normal.
We plan to go-live with this testing arrangement at Liverpool Civil and Family Court with effect from 26 April 2021.
We will provide a further update with specific detail regarding how the home testing model will operate within our court and commencement date.
In the meantime, until home-test kits are available at this court, there are different ways to access tests depending on where you live:
In England, those who don’t visit a court or tribunal site regularly, work from home, or where home delivery is more convenient, will be able to order home-testing kits online via the new government scheme from 9 April. Or you may be able to get a rapid test from an NHS site. The best way to find a location is to use the NHS COVID-19 Test and Vaccination Site Finder.
In Wales, if you have coronavirus symptoms, you can book a PCR test through gov.uk. This is a full test, rather than a rapid lateral flow device test.You can read more about the testing on the Gov.Wales website. Welsh Government is working with partnerships in other parts of Wales to explore more opportunities for community testing.
HMCTS Liverpool Civil and Family Court
14 April 2021