The reopening of New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Commission offices could mean the end of long lines at the facilities.
In-person customer services will restart for drop-off and pick-up transactions -- the beginning of a phased reopening -- is set for Monday, June 15, Gov. Phil Murphy announced. Behind-the-wheel road tests and the issuing of new licenses and permits will resume June 29, the tentative "real" reopening date.
Sue Fulton, the chief administrator of NJ's MVC offices, encourages customers to continue using the MVC's online services even as offices begin to reopen.
The more people who use online transactions, the less people will come into the agency, she said.
"The Motor Vehicle Commission used to mean a lot of people crowded into small spaces," Fulton said. "We can't operate like that in a COVID-19 world.
"Our reopening plan reimagines mvc workflows with streamlined processes to ensure the customers spends a s little time as possible inside the MVC."
And, like the state's entire reopening process, restarting the MVC will be done in stages, Fulton said.
At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis last March, Fulton came to her employees saying:
"'We have got to figure out how to get faster and we have to do it while social distancing. We have a one-time chance to change.'"
Employees immediately returned with a plan: They proposed a separate licensing and vehicle centers, adopted by other major U.S. cities. The centers will offer separate services to target drivers' needs.
That's exactly what New Jersey's MVC will be doing.
"It's more efficient and it's faster," Fulton said.
Agencies have been refit with plexiglass barriers and floor tape to encourage social distancing, just like grocery stores. Face masks are also required.
The MVC will be starting with drop-off and pickup transactions, but no walk-in customers. Transactions will be transitioned online, and everything can be dropped off in designated areas.
Beginning June 15, systems will be turned on, enabling customers to book appointments for road tests and real IDs.
Vehicles bought from private sellers will soon be able to do so in a hybrid online and mail-in procedure -- which has been piloted since last May -- beginning June 22. Customers will be able to sign up for this on www.NJMVC.gov.
"All these activities will help us clear a three-month backlog," Fulton said. "Clearing the bulk transactions is necessary to make room for walk-in customers."
The governor promised an update on pools -- both private and municipal -- on Monday, June 8.
Murphy late Thursday night extended the ongoing public health emergency by another 30 days in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We will continue our path forward, while remaining vigilant and prepared to act should there be a new outbreak of COVID-19," he said.
This is a developing story. Check back for more.
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