The Courts Service has announced measures to scale back the number and size of court hearings, starting from tomorrow, but the courts will not be closing. 

The service says it is very aware of its responsibility to limit the scope of any threats to health, posed by large gatherings, but it says it is also aware that arrangements must be respectful of people's rights.

The district court will remain open throughout the country. But its work will be scaled back to deal with urgent matters only. Other matters will be adjourned to future dates.

Video conferencing will be available for use for custody hearings.  

Family law and child protection cases will continue as normal.

No new trials will start in the Circuit Criminal courts for the next two weeks. Jurors in trials which have already started are required to keep attending.

Those summoned to attend for jury duty in the Circuit Criminal Court for the next two weeks, do not have to attend.

All Circuit Court civil and family law matters will generally continue as normal, the service says. 

The Courts Service says High Court civil lists are to continue as normal, "in so far as possible". But the Cork Personal Injuries list of cases due to start on Monday has been adjourned.

Trials in the Central Criminal Courts which have already started will continue and jurors are required to keep attending. No new trials will start in the Central Criminal Court and again, jurors summoned to attend for the next two weeks do not have to attend.

The Supreme Court and Court of Appeal will continue as usual. The Court of Appeal will stagger the calling of lists to minimise the numbers in court at the same time. 

In its statement the service said its contingency planning group is continually reviewing and updating plans to meet the challenges caused by Covid-19.

It says an extensive ICT contingency plan is ready if Courts Service buildings are unavailable and the issues associated with closing services, if deemed necessary are being examined. 

It says additional sanitisation of public offices and courtrooms is being undertaken each day and hygiene supplies for public offices and hand sanitisers for public areas are being installed currently.