The payment of fines, including traffic tickets, has been extended by one month. Sittings of the nation’s courts have also been mostly suspended as government takes immediate steps to combat the novel coronavirus.

The measures were published in the Trinidad and Tobago Gazette late Monday and are to take effect immediately for a one-month period to April 17, 2020.

“In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, these Practice Directions are issued to protect the health and safety of court staff and the public,” the notice stated. The measures are aimed at reducing the number of people visiting the nation’s courthouses.

Specifically related to the payment of fines, it says:

“The time allowed for the payment of all fines (including traffic tickets) for which payment is due during this period is extended for one month from the date on which payment is due.”

Additionally, if the new date falls on a weekend or public holiday, the payment will be due on the next business day for the court.

The Practice Directions, issued by Chief Justice Ivor Archie, instructs that sittings of all courts, including the Court of Appeal, the Criminal Division of the High Court, High Court–Civil Matters, the Family Court, Children Court, District Criminal and Traffic Courts have been suspended except for matters that are deemed to be fit for hearing during this period.

Domestic and anti-terrorism related matters, writs of habeas corpus, and urgent custody applications are among the matters deemed fit for hearing during this period.

Courtrooms are now limited to attorneys, parties and necessary witnesses in order to “maintain appropriate social distancing”. Attorneys are now encouraged to file by electronic means where possible.