The Ballarat Law Courts continues to make adjustments to operations to ensure the safety of staff and court users and minimise the risk of spread of COVID-19.
Chief Magistrate Judge Lisa Hannan released new practice directions on Monday evening which states all courts will remain open during the coronavirus pandemic.
"After hearing from health experts, it is however necessary that we reduce the number of people in our court buildings," Judge Hannan said.
"This requires us to change some aspects of our practice to ensure the health and safety of our judiciary, staff and all court users."
Under the changes, courts will continue to hear matters where the accused is in custody via audio visual link, including bail applications and pleas of guilty.
All criminal proceedings - except filing hearings, committal mentions and committal hearings - where the accused is on summons or bail will be adjourned to the nominal date of June 15, 2020.
Family violence protection and personal safety intervention orders will continue to be heard. Direct contact can be made with the court for listing of an urgent application.
In the civil jurisdiction, unless directed otherwise no practitioners or parties are to attend court.
"We see these as temporary measures while we ensure we have sustainable solutions for the months ahead," Judge Hannan said.
The County Court of Victoria announced changes in response to COVID-19 on Friday.
New jury trials are unlikely to occur until the last quarter of 2020 at the earliest, as no new juries will be empanelled during the coronavirus pandemic.
Courts will limit the number of people present in any courtroom and stagger appearances to minimise crowding.
The court is moving to conduct all pre-trial directions hearings and case management matters on paper or remotely to minimise in-person attendance.
In the criminal division, a rolling special directions list will begin on April 1 to manage the future listing of previously listed jury trials.
The court will bring forward hearing suitable indictable pleas and sentences, and appeals against sentences imposed in the Magistrates' Court.
The conduct of circuits in regional courts, including Ballarat, is currently under review.
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Chief Judge Peter Kidd said the County Court was moving quickly to address the unprecedented situation.
"The court is dealing with our most challenging crisis in recent memory by using technology to keep operations going, wherever possible, while protecting the health and safety of court users," he said in a statement.
"We acknowledge these are difficult times for the justice system and we thank all court users for their patience as we work through this crisis.
"The courts are working closely together, implementing responses to the crisis and we will update our plans according to the latest advice."
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