59 Under current legislation, the status of covid-19 as a notifiable disease in England means that any inquest into a death where the coroner has reason to suspect that the death was caused by covid-19 must take place with a jury.
60 This could have very significant resource implications for coroner workload and Local Authority coroner services, resulting in a possible 25,000 additional jury inquests even at the lower end of covid-19 mortality modelling in England and Wales.
61 Although the inquests could be adjourned until the pandemic has passed, this would deprive bereaved families of swift closure and would, in any event, simply delay resource pressure for the future.
62 The Bill will modify the current legislation to disapply the requirement that coroners must conduct any inquest with a jury where they have reason to suspect the death was caused by covid-19. In respect of Northern Ireland, the Bill makes corresponding provision, including in relation to inquests into a death in prison from natural illness.