27 Apr 2020

Beefed up safety measures for reopened courts

2:33 pm on 27 April 2020

Extra safety measures are being put in place for when district courts reopen to the public on Tuesday.

Outside the Auckland District Court on Albert Street.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The courts were classed an essential service and continued to operate throughout alert level 4, but only for the most pressing cases.

Under level 3 people may leave home to attend court, however appearances in person are limited to ensure physical distancing rules are upheld.

Screening at court entrances would limit numbers, PPE would be available to anyone who asked for it and defendants could bring only one support person, Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu said.

"I expect this to be an orderly process, and people coming to court should be prepared to queue outside, at two metres apart from each other," Judge Taumaunu said.

People will also have to provide details for a Covid-19 contact-tracing register and proof of identification may be required.

"On Tuesday, the number of people attending court on bail is not expected to be large. We are expecting fewer than 70 people staggered throughout the day to attend in response to their bail conditions at Auckland District Court, and even fewer at Manukau - our two biggest courts," Judge Taumaunu said.

For the first week of alert level 3, the numbers of people expected to attend court on bail had been reduced through call-overs and other measures put in place by local judges in consultation with court managers, Judge Taumaunu said.

Anyone vulnerable on health or age-related grounds should not come, and will not be required, to come to Court.

Public counters will remain closed during Alert Level 3, there will be drop-box facilities available for filing in person.