County offices  to continue modified  staffing in wake of COVID-19

Byrd

Lawrence County Commissioners tabled a decision to alter modified staffing operations, which were set in March to combat the spread of COVID-19, at the Lawrence County Judicial and Administrative Building and for all county offices in a special called meeting on Friday.

District 1 Commissioner Jesse Byrd said he was in favor of extending the staffing plan for at least one week, or until further decisions on lessening health restrictions come from the state.

“We just brought (the public) back into the courthouse on Monday,” Byrd said. “I don’t think we’ve seen enough to make a decision just yet.”

Probate Judge Greg Dutton and Revenue Commissioner Brad Henderson each said they agreed with commissioners’ decision to maintain the modified plan until the spread of the virus continues to slow.

“We’re taking all precautions to protect our employees and their families as well as our customers,” Dutton said on Friday.

Commissioners voted 4-0 on March 30 to implement modified staffing for county departments and offices, which saw departments reduce staffing to comply with social distancing guidelines laid out in state and federal health orders.  

The courthouse reopened to the public on Monday, May 11.

Commissioner Chairman Bobby Burch said the reopening allows up to 15 visitors on the first floor and up to 10 visitors each on the second and third floors at a time.

Before reopening, the commission also had protective glass installed at clerk stations inside courthouse offices. Further precautions require staff members to clean and sanitize workspaces hourly each business day.

Courthouse patrons took a number and lined the parking lot this week, maintaining the 6-foot distancing guidelines by waiting in their vehicles or along the sidewalk—with some waiting up to two or three hours before being permitted into the building.

According to courthouse operating hours, no customers are allowed inside after 4 p.m., but Dutton and Henderson said those already waiting in line inside the building will be waited on before offices close. Those with numbers waiting outside will be permitted inside first the following business day.

Burch said modified staffing and operating procedures would remain in place at least until Friday, May 22, when the next update is expected to come from Gov. Kay Ivey.

Ivey’s Safer at Home order, which lessened restrictions on public gatherings and allowed restaurants and close-contact services to reopen, is expected to expire Friday.

All commissioners were present for the special meeting except District 5 Commissioner Joey Hargrove.

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