COVID puts B.C. Supreme Court on hold

Regular operations of the B.C. Supreme Court - including those at the Prince George courthouse - were suspended until further notice on Wednesday as part of the effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

"It is a constitutional imperative that the courts must remain open; however, in light of the extraordinary circumstances during the current public health emergency, members of the public who do not have urgent business before the court are discouraged from attending any courthouse," the BC Supreme Court said in a website posting.

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On both the civil-family and criminal sides, hearings on "essential and urgent matters" only will be held, the court said in notices issued Wednesday.

Those include orders under the Quarantine Act and the Public Health Act, the court noted in one of the notices.

All other matters that were scheduled for a hearing between March 19 and May 1 will be adjourned.

Provincial court is continuing to operate but has generally been limited to criminal matters involving people who are in custody and have been appearing by teleconference rather than in person.

All criminal matters involving accused who are out of custody and previously schedule to proceed by May 16 have been adjourned.

The same goes for traffic, ticket or bylaw and non-urgent small claims, family case and child protection matters that were scheduled to proceed by May 4.

It's made for short days at the Prince George courthouse. On Tuesday morning, six of seven matters scheduled to be heard before a judge were adjourned over the course of about 20 minutes.

Further details on how provincial court is proceeding can be found at www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/COVID19.

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