MANILA The Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday the physical closure of several courts in areas across the country amid rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and the threat of the omicron variant.
The memorandum signed by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo covered courts in Metro Manila, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, and 14 other areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.
The closures will begin Thursday, Jan. 13, and will last until the end of the month.
AREAS UNDER COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 3 WHERE COURTS ARE CLOSED:
- NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION
- NUEVA ECIJA
- BAGUIO CITY
- DAGUPAN CITY
- SANTIAGO CITY REGION 2
- CAGAYAN REGION 2
- ANGELES CITY
- BATANGAS REGION 4-A
- LUCENA CITY REGION 4-A
- NAGA CITY
- ILOILO CITY
- LAPU-LAPU CITY
All court hearings in the affected areas are suspended due to the closure.
However, the SC said "urgent matters" such as inquest proceedings and bail hearings could be done through remote videoconferencing.
Those who have transactions with the courts can still do so through their hotline numbers, email addresses, and social media accounts.
Meanwhile, under Administrative Circular No. 01-2022, the filing period for all pleadings with deadlines in January have been extended to February 1, 2022.
The closures came on the same day when the Department of Health reported 32,246 new COVID-19 cases., and a new record-high total active infections of 208,164.