July 1st 2021 marked a milestone in British Columbia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. On this date, the province moved to Step 3 of the provincial Restart Plan, lifting many of the restrictions that had been in place throughout the pandemic.
The BC Government and our provincial court system are taking a measured approach to their transition, with the Guidance for Courthouses during the Pandemic receiving regular updates. As businesses and public spaces around the province relax their rules, we wanted to provide an update on the latest public health situation around BC’s legal system.
Measures remain in place at BC Courts
BC’s Supreme Court is now open for in-person attendance with enhanced security measures. All existing infection prevention and exposure control measures, including health screening at courthouse entrances and capacity limits for courtrooms, will remain in place. These measures include:
- Health screening at courthouse entrances
- Capacity limits for courthouses, courtrooms, elevators, washrooms
- Permanently installed barriers at registry counters and in courtrooms
- Enhanced cleaning in public spaces and courtrooms
- Hand sanitization stations for public and staff
- Securing alternate locations for matters (Supreme Court criminal jury trials, Indigenous Courts and ad hoc Provincial Court matters) that cannot be accommodated at existing courthouses
Are Face Masks mandatory at BC Courts?
As of July 1st, the wearing of face masks became a recommendation rather than a mandatory requirement in many public spaces. Many companies and buildings have decided to retain their mask requirement for a further period until more individuals have had an opportunity to become fully vaccinated.
Masks and face coverings remain mandatory in BC courtrooms unless directed otherwise by the presiding judicial officer. Should an individual present at court without a mask, they will be given one to wear.
When will Courts open without restrictions?
Currently, British Columbia is planning to move to Step 4, or the final step, of our COVID-19 restrictions at some point in September 2021. At this point, it’s likely any outstanding restrictions, including mandatory mask wearing, will be lifted. It’s crucial to remember these restrictions are subject to change. Any updated directions will be posted to the website of the court in question.
Let’s check out the latest from our other courts.
Beginning July 12, 2021, appeal hearings and chambers proceedings will now take place in person in the courtroom unless parties apply or elect to appear remotely.
The BC Provincial Court is in full operation, conducting all its work either in-person in courtrooms around the province, or by telephone and video in virtual courtrooms. The enhanced security measures listed above remain in place.