The last of the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s 169 field offices that were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic will reopen on Thursday to customers who already have appointments, but not all services will be available, officials said Tuesday.
Customers requiring in-person transactions will be allowed in, while others are being told to conduct their business on the DMV website. Behind-the-wheel driving tests are still not available because of physical distancing rules, according to DMV Director Steve Gordon.
“Nearly all DMV tasks can be accomplished without an office visit,” Gordon said in a statement. “To keep wait times down and to maintain public health guidelines, I ask you to only visit a DMV office when absolutely necessary and to come prepared.”
Gordon closed all field offices to the public on March 27 because of concern over crowded offices creating a risk for the spread of COVID-19 between customers and employees. He said last week that 41 DMV employees had contracted COVID-19 in recent months but that all had since recovered and returned to work.
The backlog of teenagers needing a driving test while applying for their first driver license was a concern raised last week when the Senate Rules Committee recommended confirmation of Gordon’s appointment to head the agency.
“This is a real problem for families as parents go back to work,” Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) said.
Gordon said physical distancing rules require customers and DMV employees to be at least six feet apart, which is difficult during a driving test, but he said he is looking at various options including the use of private driving schools to conduct road tests.
Customers visiting DMV field offices are being asked to wear face masks and abide by physical distancing requirements.
Those receiving appointments to visit field offices need to complete transactions that require an in-person visit, including paying registration fees for impounded vehicles, reinstating suspended or revoked licenses and applying for a commercial driver license.
The agency has begun rescheduling appointments canceled during the temporary closure and notifying customers of the new date.
“Once the DMV has accommodated those customers, the DMV will begin offering a limited number of new appointments,” the agency said in a statement.