The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles plans to announce steps to reopening its services at Gov. Phil Scott’s press conference on Monday.
Commissioner Wanda Minoli declined to comment on specific steps that the DMV would take to reopen until after the press conference, but stressed that since the DMV first closed its doors under the governor’s state of emergency, its first priority in thinking about reopening has been restarting testing for driver’s licenses and permits.
“Our priority is creating a plan that will allow us to schedule tests for all Vermonters that had to reschedule them as we begin to reopen,” Minoli said.
At his press conference Wednesday, Gov. Phil Scott said the possibility of waiving some testing requirements because of the Covid-19 closure has been “controversial amongst those who oversee the programs,” and that it likely wouldn’t be part of the DMV’s reopening process.
“Not everyone is on the same page,” Scott said. “I know they’ve been trying to make some of those considerations, but at this point in time, when we open back up, we just want to get them through the process as quick as possible.”
Minoli said she expects the department’s conversations with the governor’s office and public health officials to be finalized over the weekend.
The DMV typically completes over a million transactions annually for over 500,000 Vermonters, Minoli said. When the pandemic hit and the office shut down, the majority of those transactions were able to be completed online, by phone or by mail, she said, but a few key services — including testing — had to be put on pause.
She said it’s the DMV’s goal to restart as many of those services now as it is possible to safely do.
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“The number one question we’ve been getting is ‘when?’” Minoli said. “I’ve received some very passionate emails from Vermonters about the value and importance of the DMV, especially for our younger drivers during this time.”
Minoli said while some people have been impatient in their anticipation of the DMV’s reopening, in general, she said, Vermonters have been overwhelmingly understanding of the challenges the department is facing. She said Vermonters have sent her a number of creative tips for how the DMV can reopen its operations.
“We’ve taken all those things into consideration in our restart plan,” she said. “My focus and priority has been on exams and on continuing to work on a plan that brings back the services we have not been able to do through online or mail.”
Minoli said the department is still trying to figure out what the future might look like, and how it might go about reopening the 11 branch offices it oversaw prior to Covid-19.
She said the DMV can sometimes be one of the most crowded indoor spaces in the state, and it’s not going to be easy to figure out how to continue operations while ensuring social distancing guidelines are followed.
“It’s not uncommon when one of our young Vermonters takes a driver’s exam for them to bring their whole family,” she said. “How do we manage to protect the public as well as our employees in that situation?”
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