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There were long lines outside Magistrates' Courts as COVID-19 screening protocols were implemented by Judiciary staff...

Statements such as, “They need to hurry up” and “a whole day work I lost, boy” could be heard from those lined up outside the Port of Spain Magistrate’s Court this morning.

Lines stretched from the main entrance of the court to around the corner as hundreds waited for their turn to enter the building.

Last Friday, the judiciary announced they would be implementing screening at all courts to minimise the number of people who were inside court buildings.

A court official was seen distributing questionnaires to be filled out by those waiting in line to attend court proceedings.

“All who have a pen,” she asked. Some who didn’t got skipped in the line.

The forms ask questions such as age and travel history in the last 21 days.

“I waiting here a half-hour now,” one person complained.

Pictures on social media showed similar lines at courts in Chaguanas and San Fernando.

The recent statement by the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago says it intends to do everything necessary to ensure access to Justice and keep the Judiciary functioning, while protecting Judiciary staff and the general public during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Judiciary also is reminding the public to be conscious of and to co-operate with Judiciary response initiatives to ensure their safety:

• All persons entering court buildings will be screened and protocols are in place to address persons presenting with any symptoms.

• Individuals who have matters before the court are asked to limit the number of persons accompanying them.

• Non-essential visits to courts should be curtailed. Exceptions include: persons with court matters; persons who are witnesses; those wishing to make an application under the Domestic Violence Act, or any other key applications. These individuals should continue to come to court.

• Persons are encouraged to utilise all electronic services such as CourtPay that the Judiciary makes available

The Judiciary also indicated that members of staff who work in the field to perform tasks, including the serving of documents, executing writs, conducting investigations, providing treatment, and monitoring court customers, are being provided with specific protocols that are unique to their areas of operation.