Saskatchewan’s provincial court system is temporarily suspending some operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Dec. 14, most trials, preliminary inquiries and in-person hearings will be suspended until Jan. 15, 2021.
“The CMHO (chief medical health officer) has advised against unnecessary travel outside of home communities and reduced the maximum gathering limits,” provincial court chief judge J.A. Plemel said in a statement.
“It has also increased the recommendation for distancing, where physical barriers are not present in courtrooms, to three metres.”
In a letter obtained by Global News, lawyers were told they can apply to have trials proceed if it is considered necessary.
“The factors to consider in determining whether a trial can proceed are: the health of the parties, including lawyers, witnesses and the accused; the circumstances of the accused and complainant or other witnesses,” said the letter.
Other considerations include whether travel between communities is required and if the proceeding can be conducted safely.
“If a determination is made that the trial should proceed after balancing the importance of running the trial and the risk to the court party and the community, the court may direct that the circuit facility be opened for that purpose.”
Circuit court dockets will continue, but will be conducted by phone in the permanent location of the court.
Traffic court at off-site locations in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert and Estevan are not affected as court officials said distancing measures can be maintained.
Officials said they are committed to maintaining access to critical services while ensuring the safety of those in the courts.