President's Message - Further COVID-19 requirements for legal practitioners


Yesterday the Premier made an announcement that is highly significant for all practitioners for whom it is essential for work to travel outside of the Greater Sydney area, namely that they should have a negative COVID test result before that travel.

Consequently, this morning the District Court of NSW announced that all court participants who must travel from Greater Sydney, including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour (the Greater Sydney area) to a sitting of the District Court outside the Greater Sydney area, must have a negative COVID-19 test result before that travel. “Court participants” includes Judges, associates, lawyers, witnesses and persons on bail or with bail dispensed with who are appearing in person.

Practitioners who have no option but to travel from the Greater Sydney region to an area beyond it within NSW in order to appear in person in the Local Court should, as a matter of precaution, follow the same advice.

In order for all court participants to obtain a COVID-19 test within sufficient time to enable them to appear on the date set for hearing and/or to comply with bail obligations, the District Court has recommended that the test be undertaken two days prior to an appearance in order for sufficient time for receipt of a test result to enable such in person appearance.

The full District Court announcement from this morning is available here.

The current rules and restrictions for Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour still provide that it is a reasonable excuse for travel into or out of the Greater Sydney region to undertake legal obligations or to work if it is not possible to do so at home. Only those for whom it is essential to appear in person should undertake such travel.

In addition, those leaving the area of Greater Sydney are required to carry proof of address. Practitioners travelling to regional or rural trials that are leaving Greater Sydney should therefore carry ID with proof of residence or temporary accommodation which must be produced at the request of a police officer.

Where possible, arrangements should be made with the resident Judge or circuit Judge for participants in the Greater Sydney area to appear remotely, and practitioners who can make arrangements to appear remotely should do so.

More generally, the NSW Government has mandated the use of QR codes as a means of creating a record of the time and date individuals have visited a location. From 12 July 2021, anyone entering Court buildings in NSW will need to ‘check in’ and show the green tick on their phone to security as part of the entry scanning process. Anyone without a phone can check in manually at the security desk.

Furthermore, masks must be worn indoors and social distancing observed where possible, in common areas, including in common areas of chambers and inside the chambers of an individual barrister if there is more than one person in the room.

Given the transmission rate of the Delta variant, I would also urge practitioners to work from home where at all possible and when in chambers to ensure compliance with the mask requirements.

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