Implementing the COVID-19 Protection Framework in the courts and tribunals

9 February 2022

The Ministry of Justice has released the key measures that will be taken to manage health and safety in the courts and tribunals. These took effect on 31 January 2022.

Court buildings will continue to use contact tracing, thermal imaging, and asking standards questions such as whether you have any COVID symptoms. Mask use will continue to be mandatory and surgical masks will be available at the entrance.

To enter a Court building

Every person entering a court building will now require either a My Vaccine Pass, a recent negative COVID-19 test or a valid exemption.

If you have a My Vaccine Pass

If you are required to attend court in person, you can enter the court building as normal, whether you are attending your own hearing, appearing as counsel, or as a support person.

Those required to attend in person are: criminal defendants, lawyers for criminal defendants, summonsed witnesses, summonsed jurors, and prosecutors.

If you do not have a My Vaccine pass

You will be asked to get a test before being granted entry. The tests accepted are PCR tests and rapid antigen tests. You can now go to a pharmacy and get one for free, when you explain that you need a test to attend court. Pharmacies offering this service can be found on the Healthpoint website.

If you have already had a test at your own cost, the Ministry will reimburse you. If you are not required to attend in person, the fee for this test will not be covered.

If you do not wish to take a test

You cannot be compelled to take a test. If you are entitled to attend in person, the Judge may adjourn your hearing or put in place special procedures to manage each defendant on a case-by-case basis.

Alongside these measures, remote appearances will continue to be used to the extent possible.

Anyone who has COVID symptoms or is required to isolate for any reasons will not be allowed into court and the hearing will be adjourned.

Jo Naidoo and Harrison Thien are part of our Family Disputes team at Norris Ward McKinnon.