Operations at the Grande Prairie and Peace River court houses will be restricted in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. It was confirmed Monday that Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench is suspending all sittings except for urgent or emergency matters.

“To protect the health and safety of all court users while ensuring respect for the legal rights of accused persons and civil litigants, the Provincial Court of Alberta is limiting all regular operations, effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, until further notice,” a notice on its website reads.

Anyone not in custody and with a criminal court appearance between Tuesday March 17 and Friday, May 22, 2020 will have their appearance rescheduled for a date at least 10 weeks later. For those in custody, bail hearings, sentencing for those facing time served, preliminary inquiries, trials, and youth criminal sentence reviews will go ahead as scheduled.

Members of the public will not be allowed in the court room unless they are parties, witnesses, media, or legal counsel on urgent court-related business. Civil matters, with the exception of pretrial conferences and case management for before May 22nd, will be adjourned indefinitely.

Non-urgent family matters set to be heard after March 17th will be adjourned for ten weeks from the scheduled court date. Traffic courts are also closed, meaning people can either pay their fines online, or plead not guilty by contacting the local courthouse by phone, e-mail or fax.