Changes to courthouse COVID health & safety protocols as of April 11, 2022

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The Provincial Health Officer has announced that most COVID-related restrictions will be lifted throughout BC on Friday April 8, 2022. In light of this change, Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie announced on April 1 that the BC Provincial Court will make changes to its health and safety protocols effective Monday, April 11, 2022.

Changes in BC courthouses

The Chief Judge’s message explains that people attending BC courthouses on and after April 11, 2022, can expect to find:

  • no health screening on entering the building
  • no capacity limits in courthouses or in courtrooms
  • no physical distancing requirements
  • no requirement to wear face masks in courthouses, although they are recommended
  • wearing face masks in courtrooms is a personal choice unless the presiding judge, judicial justice, or justice of the peace directs otherwise
  • water may be supplied to parties, counsel, witnesses, etc. in courtrooms in jugs with paper cups

However, the plexiglass barriers installed in courtrooms will remain, and disposable wipes, hand sanitizer, and face masks will be available. Bibles and other religious books will still not be available in courtrooms. Witnesses wishing to swear an oath rather than affirm must bring their religious book or sacred object to court and take it with them when leaving.

Court proceedings

There will be no change in the way Provincial Court proceedings are conducted at this time.

Why not? The Provincial Court deals with a high volume of cases - 156,241 new cases were filed between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Hearings and trials are scheduled at least several months in advance. To minimize confusion resulting from changes in court operations, currently scheduled matters will proceed as scheduled – as either virtual, hybrid or in-person proceedings. The Court will announce its plan about future court operations by June 16, 2022.

Changes to Notices, Directions and Policies

Effective April 11, 2022, NP 22 In-Person Proceedings and Attendance During COVID-19: Health and Safety Protocols is rescinded.

As a result, the Court has made consequential amendments effective April 11, 2022 to the following:

What if circumstances change?

As has been the case for the last two years, the Court will continue to monitor and take into account applicable public health orders and guidance and the changing conditions of the pandemic. Circumstances may still change rapidly, and if so, further changes may be required. Any updated directions will be posted on the Court’s website.