COVID-19 court restart operations

Last updated: October 15, 2021

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PHO Temporary order – Face Masks

On October 12, 2021, the PHO announced changes to the Face Coverings Order of August 24 to require them for anyone over the age of five in indoor public spaces.

Previously, masks were mandatory in public spaces as of Wed., Aug. 25, 2021 for people 12 and older in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccine status. The temporary order will be reassessed as the B.C. vaccine card requirement is fully implemented.

Anyone attending a courthouse for an in-person appearance, hearing or trial or to obtain registry services must comply with the directions.

Individuals will be required to wear a mask or face covering in courtrooms unless directed otherwise by the presiding judicial officer.

The presiding judicial officer may also direct other measures depending on the circumstances of a particular court proceeding.

Masks will be available at the main entrance doors to courthouses across the province.

Guidance for British Columbia's Courthouses

As of July 1, British Columbia’s Restart Plan Step 3 lifted restrictions that had been in place throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and shifted from COVID-19 infection prevention and exposure control measures to ongoing communicable disease prevention measures.

Government and the three levels of Court are taking a measured approach to this transition, which is supported by the Guidance for Courthouses during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Provincial Health Officer Statement for Employers on Transitioning from COVID-19 Safety Plans to Communicable Disease Plans.

Existing infection prevention and exposure control measures that remain in place include:

  • Health screening at courthouse entrances
  • Capacity limits for courthouses, courtrooms, elevators, washrooms
  • Permanently installed barriers at registry counters and in courtrooms
  • Enhanced cleaning in public spaces and courtrooms
  • Hand sanitization stations for public and staff
  • Securing alternate locations for matters (Supreme Court criminal jury trials, Indigenous Courts and ad hoc Provincial Court matters) that cannot be accommodated at existing courthouses

Courthouse entrances

All persons should enter a courthouse via the door that is the court’s street address or as directed by sheriffs.

Restricting or delaying access to the courthouse will be at the discretion of the sheriffs or at the direction of a judge based on health and safety considerations and maximum building occupancy.

To reduce the need to physically attend the courthouse, the court registry accepts filings through Court Services Online, mail, email or fax. Court users are encouraged to use those options wherever possible.

Oaths or Affirmations

If a witness wishes to give evidence under oath rather than by affirmation, they must bring a bible, other religious book or sacred object to court. No bibles or other religious books will be available in the courtroom.

BC Centre for Disease Control

Information can be reviewed on the BCCDC website about:

  • COVID-19 exposures where a medical health officer or public health specialist has determined there is a risk of infection to others
  • Notices and summaries related to potential COVID-19 clusters, outbreak, or group testing
  • Incident investigations
  • Courthouse site inspections

Public access and media

All efforts will be made to provide public access to the courthouse and court proceedings.

Depending on the number of people who want to access a courthouse or courtroom, entry may be restricted or delayed so as to ensure Public Health guidelines can be met. In-person attendance is subject to compliance with the Public Health Orders and specific judicial direction as it pertains to courthouses and courtrooms.

All people attending courthouses in British Columbia are asked to be familiar with all health and safety protocols and to cooperate in following them in order to protect everyone in courthouses in this province.

More information

Review the frequently asked questions about HVAC.

Check the BC Centre for Disease Control website for information about symptoms, hand hygiene and other timely topics.

Consult the websites of the relevant court for updated directions and notices.