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Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench suspends regular operations to safeguard against COVID-19

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

UPDATE: Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench postpones jury trials to fall

The Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench announced Thursday it’s suspending all regular proceedings except for emergencies matters in a directive regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective at 12:01 a.m. on March 20, regular operations at all Court of Queen’s Bench judicial centres throughout the province are suspended.

Only urgent and emergency matters will be heard by the court with most heard via phone or video conference, according to a press release.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Number of COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan rises to 20

Chief Justice M.D. Popescul issued this directive in response to the most recent information available concerning the public health risks posed by the novel coronavirus, a statement read.

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The court said it’s committed to taking the steps necessary to safeguard the health of everyone in its courtrooms and facilities while balancing the need to maintain judicial operations and uphold the rule of law.

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Officials said it’s understood this directive will cause hardship to those with matters before the court.

“The decision to proceed in this manner was done cautiously as information developed regarding the health situation. Priority has been placed on the health and safety of the public, and all those who come in contact with the justice system,” read the court’s statement.

READ MORE: New jury trials postponed at Saskatchewan courts over COVID-19 risks

The court said it’s expected that matters which can be adjourned to dates other than those set forth in this directive will be reasonably accommodated.

In rare cases, the court may hear matters where participants appear in person at the courthouse.

The conditions and procedures for the directive are outlined in the document provided below.

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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.

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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