Trials postponed as Alberta courts take precautions in face of Omicron variant

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Alberta courts are enacting COVID-19 protocols that will go into effect Tuesday to limit in-person traffic through courtrooms as the province experiences a rise in COVID-19 cases. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Alberta courts are enacting COVID-19 protocols that will go into effect Tuesday to limit in-person traffic through courtrooms as the province experiences a rise in COVID-19 cases. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A number of trials and appearances scheduled to get underway in Alberta courts this month will be postponed following the enactment of stricter COVID-19 protocols.

Both the provincial court and Court of Queen's Bench recently announced limits for in-person matters to lower traffic through courthouses across Alberta.

Measures announced by both courts will go into effect Tuesday through Jan. 21 and delay many in-person civil and criminal trials and hearings.

Exceptions for the Court of Queen's Bench include:

  • trials that were ongoing before Tuesday;

  • criminal trials if an accused is in custody;

  • scheduled emergency protection and restraining order hearings with live evidence;

  • matters that are determined on a case-by-case basis to be unusual or urgent.

The provincial court said all non-urgent out-of-custody adult and youth criminal trials will be adjourned. Case management offices will be closed for in-person attendance until further notice.

Family and child protection appearances will go forward remotely, the court said. Traffic court is not open for any in-person appearances.

The announcements come as Alberta experiences a precipitous rise in COVID-19 cases spurred by the highly-infectious Omicron variant.

Nearly identical precautions were taken at the start of the third wave in the spring of last year and follow shifting court procedures as the system has adjusted throughout the pandemic.

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