Belmonte orders closure of Hall of Justice main building and annex due to COVID-19 cases

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has ordered the temporary closure of the city’s Hall of Justice (HOJ) building and its annex after four court officers and employees tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a letter dated July 7, Belmonte informed Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and Metropolitan Trial Court Executive Judge Ace Alagar of her decision to temporarily shut down the HOJ building and its annex.

“The City Epidemiological and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU) advised the City of the necessity for urgent action to prevent an outbreak,” Belmonte said in her letter.

The closure, which she called as emergency containment measure to save lives, will last for seven days or until the CESU completes the appropriate testing and containment measures.

The city government will be in constant consultation and coordination with the Executive Judges concerned, together with the City Health Department, and the Office of the Court Administrator towards testing and health monitoring of court personnel and their clientele.

Explaining her action, Belmonte said she’s authorized under Sec. 6 (e) of Republic Act No. 11332 to enforce measures during epidemic or outbreak to prevent spread of disease.

In addition, the move is in accordance with Sec. 13 of Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) Circular No. 101-2020 authorizing local government units (LGUs) to impose lockdowns in city halls wherein courts are located.

According to City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (QC-ESU) head Dr. Rolly Cruz, they will conduct exhaustive contact tracing of all those who were in close contact with the court officers and employees who were found positive and perform follow-up testing as necessary.

Suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases shall be placed on home quarantine or isolation in a quarantine facility as feasible under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) started the thorough surface disinfection and misting of the whole City Hall complex.

The disinfection began on Thursday and will last until Sunday.