TRI-COUNTY — With parts of Kentucky’s workforce returning back to work this week, so too are some of the Tri-County’s local governmental agencies with the State Executive Branch reopening Monday, following an executive order issued by Gov. Andy Beshear’s Friday.
Among those government agencies permitted to reopen include local county clerk’s offices. All three local county clerk offices in the Tri-County have reopened as of Monday.
County Clerks are responsible for general clerical duties of the fiscal court such as issuing and registering, recording and keeping various legal records, registering and purging voter rolls, conducting election duties, and conducting tax duties.
While some governmental offices and agencies are permitted to reopen, they must also follow the social distancing requirements laid out by the state’s Healthy at Work Plan.
According to the state’s plan, government offices and agencies with office-based work must ensure that no more than 50% of employees are physically present in the office on any given day and no more than 33% of the occupational capacity of the facility. Offices have been tasked with modifying office traffic flow to minimize contacts between the public and government employees with actions like eliminating the use of waiting rooms and lines for services.
Government employees and contractors are also required to comply with the state’s COVID-19 mask policy in which agencies are required to provide two cloth masks to employees and contractors, and employees are required to wear a mask in settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
The state has also asked that County Clerk’s offices and other government agencies continue to conduct as much business as possible through means of technology such as email, telecommunications, and phone calls.
Although Gov. Beshear announced that the regional driver's licensing office at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) building in Frankfort would reopen Monday for limited services, Kentucky’s other driver's licensing offices and Circuit Court Clerk offices are to remain closed until at least June 1.
Kentucky’s Judicial Branch’s closing came as the result of an order issued by Kentucky’s Chief Justice John Minton on April 24. The order saw all of Kentucky’s civil and criminal dockets outside of emergency and time-sensitive matters, like domestic violence hearings, were canceled.
If a time-sensitive court procedure were to occur during the pandemic, the order issued by Minton states that all participants to a proceeding, including parties and attorneys, must be allowed to participate remotely. Judges must use available telephonic and video technology to conduct all hearings, unless the parties are unable to participate remotely.
While local Circuit Court Clerks have been given a tentative date, local offices are saying they haven’t received much guidance past that, although they believe that the state will handle their reopening in a phased approach, much like other entities and agencies.
As a result of closing its Circuit Court Clerk’s offices to the public, the state has issued an order by the Secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet that sees the expiration date for all driver’s license has been extended for 90 days.