In an effort to limit the disruptive effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on the courts system, British Columbia is suspending civil jury trials until next October.

B.C.’s attorney general announced that it will temporarily suspend all civil jury trails until Oct. 4, 2021. In the meantime, all civil cases will be heard by judges alone.

The move is intended to “help courts remain safe and minimize the impact of delays caused by the pandemic,” the attorney general’s office said.

Pandemic-related delays stem from the need to rearrange courtrooms to allow for physical distancing. Measures include installing plexiglass barriers and hand wash stations, along with enhanced cleaning and regular health screenings, the government noted.

Criminal jury trials resumed on Sept. 8.

“As we resume operations in B.C. courts under this ‘new normal,’ we must do all we can to work through the backlog of cases and give individuals access to justice in a timely manner,” said David Eby, B.C.’s attorney general.

“We have made these changes in consultation with key sector stakeholders, working together to find the best way forward with civil jury trials in British Columbia while adapting our court system to keep individuals safe during the pandemic,” he added.

Craig Ferris, president of the Law Society of British Columbia, said that the law society “supports this temporary initiative as a way of ensuring the public can still have their cases heard while everyone works through this current crisis.”