The courts will almost all shut down for the next two weeks following strong criticism from barristers and solicitors of the original measures introduced to deal with the threat to public health posed by Covid-19. 

From Monday, only urgent cases and cases not involving witnesses will go ahead. 

The Courts Service said it had spent the day consulting with staff and judges to see how the plans to date had worked and what else needed to be done. It said it had now scaled back sittings even further. 

The Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal will adjourn on consent, any hearing or appeal listed between now and 3 April, when the position will be reviewed.

The High Court will sit only to deal with urgent matters and bail applications and extradition hearings will be conducted via video link and heard in the Criminal Courts of Justice. 

No new actions involving witnesses will begin between now and the end of this legal term but cases at hearing will continue. 

No new trials will begin in the Central Criminal Court for the remainder of this term and all of next term. But trials at hearing will continue until they are over. 

In the Circuit Court, ongoing jury trials will continue but no new trials will begin. The District Court will hear urgent matters only in all districts throughout the country. 

The service says the measures will be reviewed at the end of this legal term on 12 April. 

Earlier barristers and solicitors had criticised the measures already taken, saying they didn't go far enough.

One barrister, who works in the civil courts, described not closing down the courts as "outrageously irresponsible".  

Many civil court cases involve callovers on Monday morning where dozens of barristers, solicitors and clients are crammed into small courtrooms.  

Another described it as "madness" and asked how the courts service could possibly justify keeping non-essential civil cases going. 

Fianna Fáil's justice spokesman, and barrister, Jim O'Callaghan said it was inappropriate and unsafe to require large amounts of people to assemble in compact courtrooms for lengthy periods of time. He said he had asked the courts service to close all courts. 

The Irish Criminal Bar Association wrote to the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and the Chief Executive of the Courts Service Angela Denning to urge them to take further measures.