B.C. courts reducing operations during COVID-19 pandemic
The B.C. Supreme Court is seen in Vancouver, B.C., in this June 2, 2015 file image. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s provincial courts are reducing operations until further notice as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to accelerate.
Bail hearings will be done by audio or video conference, instead of the offenders appearing in person.
Meanwhile, family court, small claims and child protection case conferences that were scheduled between March 16 and May 4 will be rescheduled.
A new date will be sent to the parties involved by May 4.
Previously, the provincial court had said members of the public exhibiting flu-like symptoms should not attend to watch the proceedings. Lawyers, parties or witnesses who are sick or in self-isolation are asked to notify the court.
On Friday, the B.C. Supreme Court said jury selections would be cancelled until the end of May throughout the province. Impacted criminal cases could make arrangements for a trial by judge alone. Otherwise, the trial would be adjourned until after May 31.
For ongoing jury trials, it's up to the judge whether the trial should continue or be stood down temporarily.
The changes come as B.C. continues to enact strict measures to slow the novel coronavirus' spread. Last week, provincial health authorities announced gatherings of more than 250 people were banned and also recommended against all non-essential international travel.