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Newfoundland court closes doors due to COVID-19 spread

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 @ 1:24 PM | By Terry Davidson

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is suspending its normal operations for the rest of February and throughout March in response to rising COVID-19 numbers in the province.

According to a recent online notice and accompanying documents, all in-person appearances, including jury trials, will be postponed — save for some “limited exceptions.” Only urgent matters will proceed virtually from Feb. 22-26.

All criminal, family and civil matters scheduled for that week are adjourned, but matters such as in-custody bail hearings, bail reviews and detention reviews will be heard via video- or audioconferencing.

Starting March 1, the court will resume hearing non-urgent matters virtually. No in-person appearances will be happening unless a judge determines the case is urgent and cannot seen to virtually.

“Limited filings will be permitted by email for the week of February 22-26, 2021, only,” states the court. “Beginning March 1 … the Court will again provide access to drop boxes for filing and picking up documents.”

Before this, it had been announced that Supreme Court judicial centres across the province were suspending normal operations for the week of Feb. 15-19 and would be maintaining an essential services model only.  

All of this came in response to the province moving back to Alert Level 5 measures earlier in February, when COVID-19 numbers began rising.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer reportedly announced the move in a bid to control the spread of a variant of the virus, which health officials said is behind the recent spike.

Under Alert Level 5, residents are to stay home as much as possible and gatherings are largely limited to those of the same household. Restaurants are closed to in-person dining but can provide takeout, and retail stores not providing essential services are closed to in-store shopping but are able to do online and telephone sales with delivery and curbside pickup.

Recreational facilities such as gyms, swimming pools and yoga studios are closed, as are cinemas, spas, hair and tanning salons and body piercing and tattoo parlours.

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