Statement from Magistrate's Court Manager, Mrs. Annette Williams-Sylvester
Regarding Restriction on In-Person Appearance in Magistrate's Court Following End of Four Day Quarantine
22 January, 2021
As you are aware, the world and the Territory continue to manage the effects of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and the Government of the Virgin Islands has taken many measures to control, prevent and suppress the spread of the virus. As such, effective December 1, 2020, the Government implemented a protocol wherein arriving passengers to the Territory on (Day 0), are required to quarantine for four days only, and following receipt of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, persons are allowed to move freely within the Territory. Persons travelling from the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic are required to quarantine for fourteen days.
Further, it has come to our attention that counsels and other parties to proceedings have recently concluded the required four-day quarantine following periods of travel, and have resumed regular activity. Additionally, it is likely that persons will travel in the future as well. As the number of judicial officers and court staff are finite, we cannot risk our operations coming to a bait as a result of exposure to COVID-19 due to the inherent risks of a shortened quarantine period. Our premises are also small and the number of persons requiring access to justice daily continues to grow. Time and crowd management remain a constant struggle despite our best efforts.
The incubation period for the virus is known to be fourteen days and in exceptional cases can be as long as twenty-one days. While the four-day multiple test regime does provide a layer of protection, a fourteen-day period of quarantine is preferable to ensure the safety and protection of court officers. Since, December 1, 2020, the borders to the Territory have been open to visitors and as evidenced by published statistics, a number of cases have been and continue to be imported in the Territory. The court recognises the level of risk that this poses and as we endeavour to continue providing service, we must make modifications to safeguard the health of all.
Therefore, in order to prevent the spread of the virus among the lower judiciary, staff, witnesses and defendants, please be advised that effective Monday, January 25, 2021 the court requires that all parties to proceedings who have travelled, notwithstanding receiving clearance after the four-day quarantine period, must adhere to an additional ten-day period before appearing physically at the Magistrate's Court, or offices wherever situated. If you have travelled and fall within this category, or are a close contact of someone who falls within same, we kindly ask that you make contact with the Court Office at telephone number 468-4360, or 468-4283 to make arrangements so that your matter could be heard electronically, or adjourned to a later date where said feature is unavailable.
As we continue to try to keep all court’s users safe, all persons are reminded that upon entering the Magistrate's Court, or our offices, they are required to sanitise their hands and wear masks, or face shields. When addressing the court, allowance will be made for persons to remove their face covering if there are issues with clarity of speech. However, save and except those instances, face coverings should remain in place.
We also require all persons to adhere to all Government mandated safety protocols including social distancing. Further, should you be experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 such as cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, fever, or generally feel unwell, do not attend at our courts, or offices. In these instances, please make contact with the Medical Health hotline at 852-7650.
Please note that these measures are being put in place to protect all of us and the continuity of our justice system. Your attention and cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated, and we thank you in advance.