CHIEF Justice Diosdado M. Peralta has ordered the closure of all courts and offices in Metro Manila and nearby provinces on Mar. 25 to 26 amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

Court hearings were also suspended except on urgent matters including petitions for bail and habeas corpus and promulgation of judgments of acquittals, the tribunal said in a statement on Thursday.

Exceptions also apply to reliefs for those who may get arrested and detained during the period. The public may contact the courts via hotlines and e-mail, it added..

Court spokesman Brian Keith F. Hosaka said the suspension was only until Mar. 26 since Mr. Peralta’s retirement takes effect the day after. It’s not yet clear whether the closure would be extended, he added.

Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe will be acting chief justice if the presidential palace does not announce a new one, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez said. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago