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Ontario courts shutting down in a bid to slow coronavirus

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Correction: Global News initially reported that the Ontario Court of Justice was closing Tuesday when in fact it is the Ontario Superior Court of Justice which will close for the most part on Tuesday. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

The Superior Court of Justice has announced that it will shut down most operations as of Tuesday in a bid to reduce the transmission of the novel coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.

The shutdown, will which will include all new trials, will last through April 3.

The court says it will continue to hear the most urgent matters.

READ MORE: Archived: Live updates on coronavirus in Canada

“All criminal, family and civil matters scheduled to be heard on or after Tuesday March 17, 2020 are adjourned,” a notice on the Superior court’s website reads.

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Chief Justice Geoffrey B. Morawetz said the court would only hear urgent matters during the suspension, but trials already in progress would receive direction from the presiding judge today.

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Civil and family courts are also largely shutting down over COVID-19 concerns, and will only deal with “urgent and emergency” cases, including those having to do with public health, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said.

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“This suspension will cause substantial inconvenience to those with matters before the court,” the chief justice said in the notice.

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“The decision to engage this emergency process was not made lightly. However, the health and safety of the public, as well as all justice participants, is a priority.”

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The Superior Court of Justice, which handles the bulk of criminal cases but does not have jury trials, has also said all matters would be automatically adjourned and rescheduled to a later date, and urged those involved not to attend court.

Other judicial bodies, such as the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, are also postponing hearings indefinitely.

• With files from Canadian Press