The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced Thursday it will reopen 25 out of 176 field offices starting Friday, as well as 10 DMV Business Centers. Those offices will only open to serve customers who already have existing appointments and for a limited number of services that require an office visit.
The DMV closed all of its offices March 26, after a series of NBC4 I-Team reports revealed that employees across the state had tested positive for the coronavirus and their co-workers were increasingly afraid of being infected.
Since then, thousands of Californians have tried, without success, to get much-needed DMV services.
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"I can't work as an EMT (emergency medical technician) in California during the COVID-19 crisis without an ambulance drivers certificate, which I can only get at a DMV office," an LA-area college student who asked not to be named told NBC4
At DMV offices that will open tomorrow as part of the "Phase 1" reopening, plexiglass shields have been installed to separate customers from employees, and DMV workers have been given masks and some have been given plastic face guards.
“Following cleaning of the offices, expansion of virtual services and development of new protocols, the DMV is reopening select offices,” the DMV’s Thursday news release stated.
The DMV says it will require customers and employees to follow strict safety measures.
“Safety measures, like staying six feet apart and wearing masks, are encouraged,” DMV Director Steve Gordon said Thursday in a video released by the department.
If the limited Phase 1 reopening is successful, the DMV will then open more locations across the state, according to an internal memo obtained by the I-Team.
"Success will be measured by the ability to provide employees sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the ability to continue to retain physical distancing," said the memo, which was addressed to DMV employees.
The small number of field offices set to open Friday will only allow walk-ins for specific exceptions, including DMV certificates needed by emergency medical workers.
“We can't lessen this crisis, we can't make it go away faster if we don't have enough people in our emergency service workforce,” said the EMT who is waiting to get a DMV ambulance drivers certificate. Click here to see what DMV field offices are set to open Friday and what services will be offered.