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Ontario Superior Court to suspend operations amid COVID-19 pandemic
Bryann Aguilar, CP24.com
Published Sunday, March 15, 2020 5:55PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 15, 2020 10:40PM EDT
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice says it will be suspending all operations starting on Tuesday over the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Superior Court said that only urgent public health and safety matter and urgent civil, family and criminal matters will be heard.
“By order of Chief Justice Morawetz, for any accused person who has a criminal matter scheduled for any type of appearance in the Superior Court of Justice between March 17, 2020 and June 2, 2020, that matter is adjourned, unless directed otherwise by the Court,” Superior Court said in an advisory.
“To preserve jurisdiction, for all accused persons who have been scheduled to appear between March 17, 2020 and June 1, 2020 a bench warrant with discretion will issue as of the date the person is scheduled to appear, pursuant to s. 597 (4) of the Criminal Code.”
All criminal, family and civil matters scheduled to be heard after Tuesday are adjourned, the court said. It includes all telephone and videoconference appearances scheduled before March 17, unless the presiding judicial officer directs otherwise, the court said.
The moves comes following the suspension of upcoming jury trials last week.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General of Ontario had said the cancellation of jury panels for upcoming civil and criminal trials is a precautionary measure to keep the public, court users, and staff safe.
The city also announced Sunday that all Provincial Offences Act courtrooms will be closed from March 16 to April 3.
"Provincial Offences Act matters will be adjourned without the individual being present and rescheduled to a later date, as per an order by Chief Justice of Ontario," the city said in a statement on Sunday.
"Individuals who were expected to appear in court are not required to attend and will be notified of new court dates. A notice of the new court date will be sent by mail to the address on file with the court."
The number of cases in the province has been steadily rising in the past days, recording the most significant jump on Sunday with 42 new cases.
Ontario has the highest number of cases in the country, with 145 with five recoveries.