Barristers in Cork notified of coronavirus case in their offices

About 120 barristers affected by closure and ‘deep clean’ of chambers next to courthouse

Courthouse Chambers at Washington Street in Cork.

Courthouse Chambers at Washington Street in Cork.

 

About 120 barristers were affected by the closure of law offices in Cork as a result of a worker in their building being infected with coronavirus.

The offices of the Cork Bar Library, home to barristers working on the southern legal circuit, were closed after the worker tested positive for Covid-19.

A notice was circulated late on Wednesday night telling barristers that the landlord of Courthouse Chambers at 29 Washington Street in Cork city centre was temporarily closing the building with immediate effect and was arranging a “deep clean” of the offices.

In an update, the HSE signed off on the reopening of the building on Thursday afternoon after the building had been cleaned.

Six of the nine new cases of coronavirus confirmed by the HSE on Wednesday were in the south of the country. Four men tested positive as a result of travel; one man and one woman became infected after contact with a confirmed case.

There are 43 confirmed cases in the Republic and 18 in Northern Ireland.

The landlord of 27-29 Washington Street - next to the main courthouse in Cork - told tenants that it had been in touch with the Health Service Executive seeking advice on what steps to take next to allow the building to reopen, according to the notice circulated late on Wednesday night.

Ciara Murphy, chief executive of the Bar of Ireland, told barristers in an email that she was meeting the chief executive of the Courts Service today to discuss the matter further.

“I understand that there are very real and serious concerns now presenting for members,” she said.

“Should you have a concern about possible contact with a person who has been confirmed with Covid-19, you should make contact with your GP and/or HSE and consult guidance available on the HSE website.”

A spokesman for the Bar of Ireland said that the legal body has a contingency plan to ensure high standards of hygiene in the building and that the health and safety of its members and staff was of paramount importance.

In an update on the Covid-19 outbreak, the Bar told members that if the Courts Service decided to close buildings - or in the event that it is notified that a member or staff member has contracted the virus - it may be necessary to “reduce access” to the Bar’s premises and limit services.

Staff are likely to be asked to stay at home and “members will also be advised to stay away from the Bar of Ireland premises,” it said in a circular sent out on Wednesday.

“Members may wish to consider their own arrangements in anticipation of working remotely if this is required,” barristers were told.

The Bar of Ireland that there are about 13 events scheduled to take place between now and the end of the legal term and that it would cancel these events if necessary with HSE guidance. It said that its annual conference in Lisbon in early June is still expected to proceed “at this time.”