Not quite. The priest can’t force the penitent to confess ‘face-to-face’ but neither can the penitent impose that on the priest. The priest is always within his right to offer only confession behind a screen.
Why, oh why, did so many parishes get rid of the old confessionals? There was a screen and no possibility of physical contact between penitent & confessor. You’d think people would be clamoring to bring that back.
Sure it was dark. The option could have been as simple as installing a light that the penitent could turn on if it suited him/her.
At least in my home parish when they took out the confessional (which had only curtains to shield the penitent from prying eyes) in the nave they built one with doors in the sacristy. In my present parish the confessionals became a utility room and a bathroom. But they hadn’t been in use for many years before that happened as the priests had more and more made use of the Reconciliation Room, which did offer a possibility of anonymity.
When we were having information sessions with the diocese to tell us what the new safety policies were going to be, a young priest stared at me in disbelief when I objected to the new confession set up based on anonymity. “But I have to know who the person is to give proper counsel!” It never occurred to him once that some people want to confess anonymously and he was obviously oblivious to the lengths to which people were willing to go to avail of that even back in the ‘old days’. I know my parents preferred not to go to confession in our home parish. At least one Saturday a month we made the trip to town to all go to confession at one of the two parishes there.