B.C. is reducing all court operations to help stop the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
The court anticipates that only urgent matters such as restraining orders, child protection, and outstanding warrants will proceed.
By March 18, criminal trials and sentencing should proceed unless adjourned by the court. It’s up to the discretion of judges to determine which matters will continue.
As of March 16, all family case, child protection, and small claims conferences scheduled up to May 4 are cancelled. New court dates will be announced by May 4. Traffic, ticket, and bylaw matters scheduled up to that date are also adjourned.
All bail hearings are now teleconference or video conference only, in place of in person appearances. Video conference will also be used for custody sentencing and trials.
Some criminal and family case matters were already being adjourned in Fort St. John courts Monday morning. It’s expected more matters will be adjourned.
The court has posted an advisory warning lawyers, litigants, witnesses, jurors, media, and the public. Those expected to be in court but are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to contact the court and follow any directions before coming to the courthouse.
Jury selection has been cancelled everywhere in B.C. until the end of May.
The coronavirus COVID-19 is causing an outbreak of respiratory infections, and the World Health Organization has declared it to be a pandemic.
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses, including the flu and common cold. They include cough, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing.
The best way to prevent potential transmission is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, avoid contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick.
There are now 103 cases in B.C., and there were 6,326 people tested as of March 13, 2020.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at email@example.com.