The Magistrate’s Court has mandated that all persons travelling into the territory to conduct face-to-face business at their facilities, undergo a 14-day quarantine period.
The Magistrate’s Court Manager Annette Williams-Sylvester said this policy takes effect today Monday, January 25.
She explained that the measure is to safeguard the staff and occupants of the courts from contracting COVID-19.
Williams-Sylvester said the court’s new mandated protocol is in line with the 14-day incubation period associated with the virus which, in rare cases, can be as long as 21-days.
“While the four-day multiple test regime does provide a layer of protection, a 14-day period of quarantine is preferable to ensure the safety and protection of court officers. Since, December 1, 2020, the borders to the territory have been open to visitors and as evidenced by published statistics, a number of cases have been and continue to be imported in the territory,” the court manger said.
“The court recognises the level of risk that this poses and as we endeavour to continue providing service, we must make modifications to safeguard the health of all,” Williams-Sylvester added.
She continued: “Therefore, in order to prevent the spread of the virus among the lower judiciary, staff, witnesses and defendants, please be advised that effective Monday, January 25, 2021, the court requires that all parties to proceedings who have travelled, notwithstanding receiving clearance after the four-day quarantine period, must adhere to an additional ten-day period before appearing physically at the Magistrate’s Court, or offices wherever situated.”
Cancellations would worsen court backlog
Williams-Sylvester also said that due the premises being small and the growing number of persons requiring access to justice daily, any disruption to the court proceedings would worsen the existing backlog of cases.
“It has come to our attention that counsels and other parties to proceedings have recently concluded the required four-day quarantine following periods of travel, and have resumed regular activity. Additionally, it is likely that persons will travel in the future as well. As the number of judicial officers and court staff are finite, we cannot risk our operations coming to a bait as a result of exposure to COVID-19 due to the inherent risks of a shortened quarantine period,” she stated.
Contact court to attend proceedings remotely
The court manager is also asking persons who have travelled recently and have matters before the court prior to the conclusion of their 14-day quarantine period to contact the court to have their matter conducted remotely.
She said: “If you have travelled and fall within this category, or are a close contact of someone who falls within same, we kindly ask that you make contact with the Court Office at telephone number 468-4360, or 468-4283 to make arrangements so that your matter could be heard electronically, or adjourned to a later date where said feature is unavailable.”
COVID-19 protocols to be adhered inside court
In the meantime, Williams-Sylvester is reminding all persons entering the Magistrate’s Court or their offices that it is required that persons sanitise their hands and wear masks, or face shields.
“When addressing the court, allowance will be made for persons to remove their face covering if there are issues with clarity of speech. However, save and except those instances, face coverings should remain in place. We also require all persons to adhere to all Government mandated safety protocols including social distancing,” she stated.
Any person experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, fever, or generally feel unwell, must not attend the courts, or its offices. In these instances, persons should make contact with the Medical Health hotline at 852-7650.
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