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Coronavirus: Circuit courts close in Saskatchewan, restrictions at other provincial courts

WATCH: Coverage in Saskatchewan on COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

More measures are being put in place at provincial courts across Saskatchewan to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those include closing all circuit courts and further restricting access to permanent locations.

Northern circuit fly-in courts are closing this week and all remaining circuit courts will close starting Monday, March 23.

READ MORE: Saskatoon police adjusting services over COVID-19 concerns

Proceedings in circuit courts are being adjourned to dates past May 31, however, officials said trials and preliminary hearings for accused who are in custody may proceed if deemed urgent by the presiding judge.

Any appearances by the accused, if hearings proceed, will be by video, telephone, agent or in-person, depending on the details, court officials said, adding notices will be posted at all circuit court locations with contact information.

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Effective March 23, access to the 13 permanent provincial courts will be restricted only to those necessary for proceedings: counsel, litigants, accused, witnesses, support workers, treatment court workers and members of the media.

Officials said trials, preliminary hearings, sentencing and bail hearings for accused who are in custody will continue unless adjourned by the court or by an application.

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The court will make use of video and audio appearances when possible in those matters.

For criminal matters involving accused who are not in custody, officials said those will be adjourned to dates after May 31.

A list of adjournment dates will be posted to the court’s website.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan RCMP suspend criminal record checks, exception for employment

Tickets

All appearances for provincial tickets, including traffic safety court, scheduled between March 23 and May 31 are being adjourned.

Court officials said those scheduled to appear between those dates have to decide on one of the following options:

Make a voluntary payment either online or by mail to the Fine Collection Branch, Box 5030, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4P 3T9.

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Contact local courthouses for time to pay extensions, time to pay requests and not guilty pleas.

Ticket court dates are being adjourned to dates that are at least 10 weeks later from current court dates, which will be published on the court’s website.

READ MORE: Coronavirus quarantine at Saskatoon Correctional Centre reaches one week

Small claims court

Small claim trials and case management conferences scheduled between March 23 and May 31 are adjourned.

Court officials said those affected will be contacted and new dates provided for proceedings.

New claims can still be filed with the court by mail or placing the documents in a dropbox in the lobby of the courthouse.

Officials said the documents will be reviewed by a clerk, who will then advise claimants on their next steps.

READ MORE: Licensed daycares in Saskatchewan still open amid novel coronavirus pandemic

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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