The California Department of Motor Vehicles is shutting public access to its field offices across the state in response to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said late Thursday.
Starting Friday, those offices will be closed to the public in order to ensure customers’ safety during the evolving pandemic, the department said. The offices will re-open April 2, but only in a “virtual” capacity in which employees will be at their jobs on site, but the public will interact with them only online, according to a news release.
On the DMV’s website, customers still will be able to conduct business that previously required in-person visits, such as vehicle title transfers and complex vehicle registration renewals.
“Field offices will be temporarily closed to the public statewide beginning March 27 and reopen, virtually, on April 2. All in-office appointments at this time will be canceled. Customers are encouraged to check the dmv.ca.gov website for future appointment availability,” DMV officials said in the news release.
The department said kiosks and requests by mail will remain available to customers.
But it wasn’t immediately clear when in-person services would be available to the public again.
“Following deep cleaning of the offices, expansion of virtual services and development of new protocols,DMV will offer in-person services in each region. More updates on how DMV is addressing the needs of its customers will be announced soon on its website,” the release said.
The office closures cap off a tumultuous week during which DMV officials confirmed one of their employees at a DMV call center in Riverside had tested positive for COVID-19. On Wednesday at a DMV field office in San Pedro, some of its employees refused to interact with customers, signaling complaints of close working conditions not in line with social distancing rules and inadequate access to hygiene supplies, according to an NBC Los Angeles report.
Also this week, the DMV told its employees that a worker in Fullerton tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Sacramento Bee report published Thursday.
The DMV did not immediately respond to questions about the Fullerton employee’s diagnosis.
The DMV already had been scaling back operations such as requiring appoints for all in-office visits, canceling driving tests until April 17, and requesting that law enforcement agencies use more scrutiny before issuing any tickets for a recently expired license or vehicle registration.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had announced that the REAL ID enforcement date was bumped a year, moving it to Oct. 1, 2021, the DMV said.