County offices open up; follow orders
BY ORA NELSON
Both county buildings and their services were reopened on May 1 following the “safer at home” order announced on April 28 that went into effect April 30.
“All county buildings were opened with controlled access,” said Greg White, chairman of the Covington County Commission. “We’re excited to be reopened.”
“We’re doing well,” said Amy Jones, Covington County circuit clerk. “The best thing to help the process to go smoother was to have in-person customers send in payments for things like fines or court costs by mail.”
“There’s a sense that everyone wants to get back to a routine,” said White. “People have been appreciative of being able to take care of their business.”
People were lining up outside the courthouse on Friday, May 1, and Monday, May 4, before business hours in an attempt to be seen inside earlier and faster.
“I think it’ll level off quickly,” said White.
“To have been closed for two weeks, we’ve been pleased with the crowd flow and how people are handling it [the situation],” said Jones. “It’s been steady. I think having people mail in [payments] was a big factor.”
The courthouse has taken preventive measures by installing glass and Plexiglass shields “if it seemed like there wasn’t enough of distance between clerks and customers.”
“We’ve had a glass sheet placed over the counter, which we’ve needed [in the office] before even before all of this,” said Jones. “We’re using glass protectors and social distancing to keep people safe.”
“We’re constantly wiping down surfaces,” said White. “We won’t be wearing masks, but encourage those coming in to [wear masks].”
Jones also encourages everyone to “remain vigilant and wear masks.”
“We’re fortunate to have these things we can do to protect everyone.”
“We’ve limited it to 10 people to an area, not in the building,” said White. “So there can be seven or eight people in the probate office and maybe three at the circuit clerk, and a couple somewhere else.”
Offices within the building have also put a 10-person limit in their specific areas into place.
“The probate office lines people up on the ride side of the hall and our [customers] wait on the left,” said Jones.
“While we [at the courthouse] were closed, our office was never closed for emergency filings [at the circuit clerk office],” said Jones. “We not only kept the office open for payments, but we’ve also been busy with the everyday happenings of Covington County.”
“People have been able to keep up their payments and were able to pick up where we left off,” said Jones. “People knew they could call [during the shut down] and we’d take care of them.”
“We’re very conscious of the risks and will monitor the news like everyone else about what the state [government] decides,” said White.
“We continue to be cautious and want everybody to stay safe,” said Jones.