COVID-19: Greater Brisbane lockdown lifted

UPDATE: Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced from 12 noon 1 April 2021, the Greater Brisbane lockdown will lift from noon today.

“Easter is good to go,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“If you are outside and can’t socially distance, put a mask on, it’s as simple as that.”

For the next two weeks, all Queenslanders will be required to carry a mask when they leave their home and to wear them in indoor spaces. Anyone attending food or beverage establishments will have to be seated, and won’t be able to order food from the bar.

Updates from courts, tribunals and commissions to come.


Thursday 1 April

Update from Magistrates Court

Notwithstanding the Greater Brisbane area lockdown has been lifted from midday on 1 April 2021 arrangements for the Magistrates Courts outlined in the Chief Magistrate’s notice to the profession (PDF, 93.4 KB) issued on 29 March 2020 will continue until 5.00pm on 1 April save that registries and courthouses will be open to members of the public. Masks must be worn inside courthouses.

Update from Supreme and District Courts

Queensland Courts are open and hearing cases

  • Jury trials resume Tuesday 6 April
  • A mask must be worn for entry and at all times when standing or moving about in a courthouse
  • Subject to judicial direction to the contrary, the mask may be removed while seated
  • Counter services have resumed at all registries in greater Brisbane
  • The notice to the profession from the Chief Justice and Chief Judge issued on 29 March have been revoked
  • Arrangements for the Magistrates Courts outlined in the Chief Magistrate’s notice to the profession (PDF, 93.4 KB) issued on 29 March 2020 will continue until 5.00pm on 1 April, save that registries and courthouses will be open to members of the public

The protocol for civil litigation in the Supreme Court will revert to the previous version (PDF, 131.9 KB)

Update from Queensland Correctional Services

Thursday 15 April

In response to this morning’s announcements regarding the further easing of restrictions for Brisbane and broader Queensland, in line with QLD Health advice, all correctional centres across Queensland will also lift restrictions and return to Stage 1 operations from 6am, 15 April 2021.

With the reversion to Stage 1, visits to correctional centres recommence, and bookings for personal and professional visits to centres, including in person professional legal visits, will resume from tomorrow.

Prisoners will continue to be produced for Court appearances where required, and will no longer be subject to COVID-19 isolation upon return to custody from Court, unless advised otherwise by QLD Health personnel.

The wearing of masks by visitors to QLD correctional centres, including legal representatives, is strongly encouraged in circumstances where social distancing cannot be maintained, or as otherwise directed by QLD Health. Health screening and temperature checks of approved visitors will continue.

Thursday 1 April

In response to this morning’s announcement regarding the lifting of the lockdown of Greater Brisbane, in accordance with advice of Queensland Health, all correctional centres will remain in current Stage 3 level restrictions as they have been since Friday 26 March 2021. Earlier this week, Stage 3 was also implemented in the correctional centres in the north of Queensland, resulting in now all centres across the state being in Stage 3. The impacts related to Stage 3 remain consistent with the previous advice provided, in summary –

  • All personal and professional in person visitations, including by legal representatives, remain suspended at all correctional centres in Queensland;
  • Non-critical movements of prisoners outside of centres remain minimised in Stage 3 due to the risks. Production of prisoners from correctional centres for appearances in Court where the in-person appearance is essential and required, will be facilitated. The use of video conferencing where viable, is preferred. QCS will continue to liaise with Courts and judicial officers where required, for operational matters related to producing prisoners for appearances.
  • Prisoners who are new receptions into a prison from the community or watch house, or transferred for in-person Court appearances (including trial attendance), may be required to isolate for 14 days upon their entry/return to QCS custody on advice of QH personnel, a timeframe which may reset upon each subsequent return to a centre from Court.

These arrangements will be further reviewed in line with Queensland Health advice, next Tuesday 6 April 2021, and a further update will be provided when it is known.

Update from Supreme Court Library Queensland

In line with the current public health directive for Greater Brisbane, after hours access to the library has been reinstated with immediate effect.

Some safety precautions and restrictions will remain in place until 15 April:

  • You must wear a face mask at all times when you are in the library public spaces even after hours
  • Please observe all social distancing requirements and follow the directions of library and Queensland Courts staff

Tuesday 30 March

11.58pm – Filing court documents QEII Courts of Law. See article here.

Monday 29 March

5.40pm – Chief Health Officer public health directives. For people in and outside Greater Brisbane. See article here.

3.56pm – Update from Supreme Court Library Queensland here.

3.26pm – Titles Registry Alert No. 180 – COVID-19 Continuity of service during Greater Brisbane lockdown. See article here.

2.55pm – Magistrates Court

Notice to the profession from Chief Magistrate Judge Gardiner

In light of the three-day lockdown announced this morning the following arrangements will apply on Tuesday 30 March 2021, Wednesday 31 March 2021 and Thursday 1 April 2021 in relation to court proceedings in the following Courthouses:

  • Brisbane Magistrates Court and Brisbane Arrest Courts
  • Beenleigh
  • Cleveland
  • Wynnum
  • Holland Park
  • Richlands
  • Ipswich
  • Pine Rivers
  • Sandgate
  • Redcliffe
  • Caboolture

  • The Registries and Courthouses will be not be open to the public.
  • Messaging on the Courthouse doors and websites will provide Registry contact information so that filing of urgent documents can be completed.
  • Subject to paragraph 4, all appearances will be by telephone or videoconference. All parties have leave to appear by telephone/video on 30 and 31 March and on 1 April 2021. If a Prosecutor can appear and wishes to appear in-person the local Magistrate can give leave.
  • At this stage, in-person appearances by adult prisoners will proceed in accordance with letters of production that have been issued provided prisons do not move from Stage 3 to Stage 4 lockdown.
  • All appearances by children in detention will be by video.
  • For private domestic violence applications Courthouses will have signage advising the applicant to contact police if their matter is urgent. Applicants wishing to proceed with an urgent private application should contact the Registry. The local Magistrate may give leave to appear or arrangements may be made for an application to be heard by telephone/video.
  • Parties wishing to appear by telephone or videoconference should contact the relevant court registry by telephone or email with the header “URGENT COURT and DATE: matter details”. The contact details for the relevant Courthouses can be found here: https://www.courts.qld.gov.au/contacts/courthouses
  • Legal practitioners may apply for an electronic adjournment using the Online Application for a Court Event portal. Ordinarily, applications lodged through the Online Application for a Court Event  portal must be submitted two clear business days before the current listed date.  This requirement is temporarily removed. Legal practitioners may now submit applications at any time. In other cases, an email can be sent to the relevant Court registry requesting an adjournment with a telephone contact.
  • Media representatives are permitted to report on Court by telephone or video where the Court is open.
  • Duty lawyer services are available by telephone as outlined below:
    • Adult criminal duty lawyer – 1300 004 924
    • Youth legal advice hotline – 1800 527 527
    • Family Law duty lawyer including family law, domestic and family violence, child protection and family advocacy support service – 1300 267 762.
  • Masks must be worn at all times in court buildings, save at the direction of a Magistrate when a proceeding is under way. 
  • All hearings will be adjourned.
  • Other matters will remain as listed and, if possible, proceed.
  • Matters where a defendant may be sentenced to custody are not suitable to proceed.
  • If parties do not appear the matters will be adjourned and a notice of adjournment will be sent.
  • Enforcement of any warrants will be postponed.

10.21am – Magistrates Court

The impacted courthouses are: Brisbane Magistrates Court / Arrest Courts, Beenleigh, Cleveland, Holland Park, Ipswich, Pine Rivers, Redcliffe, Richlands, Sandgate, Wynnum and Caboolture. The Registries and Courthouses in these locations will not be open to the public.

In these locations physical appearances WILL NOT be required on Tuesday 30 March 2021, Wednesday 31 March 2021 and Thursday 1 April 2021 ONLY. Instead, all matters will be heard via telephone or videoconference on these days. All hearings will be adjourned.

The Chief Magistrate will permit all parties leave to appear by telephone/video on 30 and 31 March and on 1 April 2021. Parties wishing to appear by telephone or video should contact the relevant court registry phone or email with the header “URGENT COURT and DATE: matter details”.

The contact details for the relevant courthouses can be found here: https://www.courts.qld.gov.au/contacts/courthouses

If you wish to apply for an electronic adjournment you can use the Online Application for a Court Event portal. Ordinarily, applications lodged through the Online Application for a Court Event portal must be submitted two clear business days before the current listed date.  Effective immediately this requirement is temporarily removed. Legal practitioners may now submit applications at any time up to the current listed date, including on the day of the scheduled appearance.

Otherwise an email can be sent to the Court registry requesting an adjournment with a telephone contact.

If there is a requirement for urgent filing to be completed, please email the documentation. Messaging will also be on the Courthouse doors and websites which will provide contact information so that filing of urgent documents can be completed.

SMS messages will be sent to all defendants in the adult criminal jurisdictions with a court date for 30-31 March or 1 April advising them not to attend the court in person.

Videoconferencing from prison may be arranged but no personal appearance from an SEQ correctional centres is possible at this stage. 

Formal information to this effect will be added to the courts’ website as soon as possible but this information can be shared as you see fit. 

Other parts  of Queensland

Except for the greater Brisbane lockdown area, courts will continue to operate as usual but, due to prisoner availability, it may be necessary to adjust listings in consultation with the presiding Magistrate if a prisoner is in one of the affected SEQ centres or required to transfer there to appear. Similarly, we are anticipating adjournment requests where parties, witnesses or legal representatives reside in one of the affected locations.

11.47am – Supreme and District Court Update

Notice to the profession from Chief Justice Holmes AC and Chief Judge Devereaux SC:

In light of the three day lockdown announced this morning, from Tuesday 30 March 2021, the following steps will be taken in relation to court proceedings in the Brisbane, Beenleigh and Ipswich court areas: 

  1. No juries will be empanelled.  A Supreme Court trial already under way will continue.

  2. Supreme Court applications will proceed according to the protocol to be found on the courts’ website. For District Court applications, practitioners will be advised by the Applications Judge whether and how applications will proceed.
  • No Court of Appeal matters are listed for hearing this week. A civil appeal callover listed for Wednesday 31 March will be held at a later date.

  • Civil and Planning & Environment trials will proceed wherever possible.

  • Sentences and other matters involving unrepresented prisoners will proceed by video link, provided that the prisons do not move from stage 3 to stage 4 lockdown. It is likely to be known later today whether that will be the case.
     
  • Masks must be worn at all times in court buildings, save at the direction of a Judge when a proceeding is under way. 

10.40am – Supreme and District Court Update

QEII, Beenleigh & Ipswich

No new juries will be empanelled this week.    Any empanelled jury trials will proceed but on the basis that, as of tomorrow, we will revert to a socially distanced jury box arrangement and the use of a second court room for the jury.

We will assume at this stage that prisoners will be personally produced for ongoing trials, sentences and applications for bail or judicial review.

Civil trials will proceed subject to the requirement for mask wearing noted below.    A refreshed protocol for civil matters very much like that last issued in January 2021 is expected to issue shortly.

It has been decided that the Beenleigh and Ipswich courthouses will be closed to visitors.  The exception will be for any jurors, witnesses or practitioners and others allowed entry for a District Court proceeding before a Judge.

All staff and entrants to any courthouse will be expected to wear a mask to enter the building and while walking about.  If someone does not have a mask, they will be offered it at the entrance and refused entrance if they refuse that offer.  Anybody who refuses to wear a mask while within the building will be asked to leave.  This includes jurors.  You should wear a mask in the courtroom while standing or moving about although it is a matter for the presiding judge if s/he asks for it to be removed.  It is probably a good idea to check the presiding judge’s preference before court where possible.

10.44am – Supreme Court Jury Trials

No jury trials will start this week in either court. A trial that is part-heard in the Supreme Court will however continue.

Whether sentences, breached or 590AAs can proceed will depend on whether the accused is in custody and, if so, whether videolink facilities are able to be used. The prisons are currently at Stage 3 but if they go to Stage 4 (a possibility), videolinks will not be available.

For cases that do proceed, practitioners will need to wear masks to gain entry and when moving about the building unless seated at the bar table (unless the presding judge directs otherwise).

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