Timelines for the reopening of the Levin District Court have been pushed out due to disruptions caused by the outbreak of Covid-19.

Ministry of Justice General Manager Commercial and Property Fraser Gibbs said the work, which initially expected to take just four months, won't be finished now until September.

"The seismic strengthening work at Levin District Court has been delayed due to the effects of Covid-19," he said.

Contractors that were engaged to do work prior the lockdown had to close down the site on March 23. They were able to return to the site on May 8 as Covid-19 restrictions eased.

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"The contractor has extended the timeframe to complete the work due to Covid-19-related safety measures they must take into account," he said.

"The court is now expected to reopen in September."

In addition to the earthquake work, the building is being fitted with new technology and beefed up security.

"We are using this opportunity to upgrade Levin DC with audio-visual capabilities, along with ensuring the public counter is brought up to current Ministry security standards," he said.

"There is also some work being done on the building's facade."

While the delay was not ideal, the Ministry has kept in close contact with the local legal profession and staff about the timeline for the work," he said.

Staff and other court users were understanding about the delays, but of course, everyone would be looking forward to returning to the Levin courthouse again, he said.

There were 10 staff were affected by the shutdown, although all had continued working through the closure.

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Anyone that would normally have appeared in the Levin District Court was having their cases heard in the Palmerston North District Court, and some in Porirua.

A building opposite the courthouse had been leased by the Ministry for registrar's appearances.

The old Levin Courthouse was moved to Cambridge Street in 2008.
The old Levin Courthouse was moved to Cambridge Street in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Levin District Court was not an old building. It was officially opened by then Prime Minister John Key in 2010.

But while it met current earthquake standard, the Ministry had asked an engineering firm to assess the building against proposed new guidelines for concrete buildings.

Engineering firm WSP Opus concluded that part of the building did not meet those standards, citing the first floor could collapse in a medium-strength earthquake.

The cost of repairs was still unknown at this stage, although would be released by the Ministry on completion.

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