Proactive Hanover courts defying COVID-19
While the courts in the neighbouring parishes of St James and Westmoreland have had to close their doors because of their inability to function amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Hanover courts, through pre-planning and proactive measures, remain functional.
According to Andrea Montaque-Williston, court administrator in Hanover, the justice system in the parish is still rolling, with cases of litigants being aired in the Ramble, Sandy Bay, Green Island, and Lucea courts.
Statistics are showing that some 29 persons aligned to the legal fraternity islandwide have died as a result of contracting the coronavirus, while other court staff and users of the court have also been infected by the deadly virus.
According to Montaque-Williston, alertness and quick action by all concerned in the Hanover courts office led to the court system in the parish not being adversely affected by the coronavirus.
“A few of my colleagues got the COVID. However, we were able to catch it in time, hence they were placed in quarantine for 14 days, and we managed to take out those who came in contact with them as well, so we were down to only the senior persons like the clerks, deputy clerks and me,” said Montaque-Williston.
“We were able to run the courts effectively, so to say that the litigants would have been suffering, it would be a no-no for us. We jumped in and did the work of the others; we doubled up and tripled up. We got there from early (in the mornings) to ensure that the Hanover Parish Court is not affected severely, so we did not have a lockdown (of the court’s office),” added Montaque-Williston.
According to the court administrator, all the courts across Hanover are being sanitised continuously, as well as the police stations connected to them.
She said that from as far back as April, the effects of the COVID virus was being felt in Hanover, but it only started impacting the court staff in May and June, forcing them to start employing preventative actions to limit its impact.
“We are now more cautious of the persons who are coming, so if you do not have any matter with the court, you are not allowed over there, and when the court begins at 10 a.m., we break at 11 a.m. for sanitising. So on the hour every hour, we have been sanitising and doing temperature checks,” said Montaque-Williston.
“All the health protocols are practised daily at the courts, even with safety monitors wearing reflector vests going around to ensure all persons in attendance are sticking to the required protocols,” she continued.
Montaque-Williston is urging litigants and other persons using the court system to follow the protocols as much as possible and do not take them lightly.
“We should not really wait until COVID-19 is at our doorstep before we can actually put these things into practice to keep ourselves safe. Let us do what we have to do and see if we can return to normality soon,” she said.