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Ontario superior court suspending juries for upcoming trials amid coronavirus outbreak

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WATCH ABOVE: Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, confirmed that health officials are advising people not to travel outside of the country if it’s not “essential.” – Mar 12, 2020

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice (SCJ) is suspending juries for upcoming trials amid increasing cases of COVID-19 in the province.

“Until further notice, Chief Justice (Geoffrey) Morawetz has suspended jury panels in all SCJ locations for upcoming civil and criminal jury trials,” a spokesperson for the court told Global News in an email statement.

“Summoned jurors will be instructed not to attend court. Jury trials currently in progress will continue, subject to the trial judge’s discretion.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: All publicly funded schools in Ontario closing for 2 weeks due to COVID-19

The SCJ is set to release more details about the decision on Friday.

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Jenessa Crognali, press secretary to Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey, called the decision a “precautionary measure” to keep court staff and visitors sage.

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“The Ministry of the Attorney General continues to monitor the evolving situation on COVID-19 and we will continue working with the SCJ and other partners on preparedness planning for the justice sector,” she told Global News in a statement.

READ MORE: Ontario confirms 17 new COVID-19 cases, including baby boy

The decision to suspend upcoming jury trials comes on the same day the Ontario government announced that all publicly funded elementary and secondary schools will be closed until April 5. March break in the province begins on Monday.

Thursday also saw this biggest single-day increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. In total, 17 new cases were announced Thursday morning. The total number of confirmed cases to date in the province is 59.

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