British Columbia

Courts closed in Vancouver, Chilliwack, Nanaimo, Campbell River due to COVID-19

B.C.’s provincial court system announced the closure of four courthouses, after learning that a court participant at each location had been in touch with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Participant at each location had been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19

The Chilliwack provincial courthouse is closed indefinitely because a participant has been in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. (Google Maps)

B.C.'s provincial court system has announced the closure of four courthouses after learning that a court participant at each location had been in touch with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

On Wednesday, the decision was made to shut the provincial courthouse in Vancouver indefinitely, as well as the downtown community court, which operates out of the same building at 222 Main St.

The Vancouver location, which sits on the edge of the Downtown Eastside, is one of the busiest and most densely attended court buildings in the province.

Courthouses in Campbell River and Nanaimo will also be closed until March 23 and the courthouse in Chilliwack will be closed indefinitely.

The Court of Appeal is also adjourning all appeal hearings, chamber applications and other matters until after May 1.

The appeal court says that it will continue to accept new filings but will close the registry, meaning that appellants will either have to file electronically, by fax or by mail.

All three levels of court in B.C. — provincial, supreme and appeal — have taken steps in recent days to restrict operations in order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The courts are running on the second level of a four-level alert plan, meaning jury trials have been adjourned or will be heard by judge alone, and where possible, lawyers are being asked to appear by telephone.

Provincial court judges will continue with trials or sentencing for accused who are being held in custody and any other criminal matters that are considered urgent.

At the present time, the public are still allowed to attend court but are being asked to respect guidance pertaining to social distancing and self-isolation, if they have returned from travelling abroad or been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

The remaining alert levels would see the operations of the court severely restricted and could include closing courthouses to the public.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

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