LONDON (Reuters) – The head of the judiciary in England and Wales on Monday ordered all jury trials to be suspended to allow new systems to be brought in to cope with government instructions for Britons to avoid unnecessary contact to prevent spreading coronavirus.

Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett said courts were putting in telephone, video and other technology to try to allow some hearings to continue but said jury trials could not be conducted remotely.

“My unequivocal position is that no jury trials or other physical hearings can take place unless it is safe for them to do so,” said Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett in a statement.

“A particular concern is to ensure social distancing in court and in the court building.”

He said no new trials should start on Monday but efforts should be made to bring existing cases to a conclusion but if necessary, these should be adjourned to allow safety measures to be brought in.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Costas Pitas