MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Get ready for longer wait times when the Shelby County Clerk’s office reopens next week. COVID-19 forced the clerk’s office to close last Thursday. And you can thank the virus for a wait that could be up to 5-times longer the next time you visit.
Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert wants customers to know when all seven locations do reopen, it will be anything but business as usual.
“This is going to be stressful,” she told reporters Friday afternoon, while giving them a tour of the downtown office. “We just ask that every customer please pack your patience. There are going to be longer waits. What generally would’ve taken you 20 minutes, may take you an hour and 20 minutes.”
The downtown office closed last week after someone tested positive for COVID-19. And because the satellite offices can’t operate when the main branch is shut down, all locations were shuttered.
“The Shelby County Health Department sent an inspector and they closed down the operations and gave us some specific guidelines that have to be met before we can go into full operations,” said Halbert.
Until partitions are installed between employees, social distancing must be followed and staff reductions will take place as a result.
Instead of 10-15 workers downtown, five will handle requests for new drivers’ licenses, tag renewals, business license applications and marriage licenses.
The suburban offices will have two workers, instead of the usual four. Customers can call and make an appointment or wait in their cars until they’re called to enter the building.
Halbert suggests using the clerk’s online services. State and county IT teams, she says, have fixed the glitches that crashed the site last week.
“It is going to be a different experience, not because we want it to be, but because it has to be,” she said. “What frightens me a little more, is we don’t know how long this will go on.”
The county clerk’s office has reached out to the state of Tennessee for an additional extension for vehicle registration and business licenses but has not heard back from officials at this time.