FLORENCE — The Lauderdale County Courthouse remains open, but it's far from business as usual.
Courthouse officials are directing the public to conduct business online or over the phone when possible, or to schedule an appointment.
In addition, some courthouse offices are state offices so they are not open to the public. That includes the courts.
Meanwhile, services for vehicle tags are being done by a drive-thru operation, and those needing to renew a driver's license are asked to come in one at a time, officials said.
"We are doing some things differently," Lauderdale Probate Judge Will Motlow said. "We're restricting access to the courthouse."
He said his office is encouraging people to mail in documents if they can be mailed.
"We strongly encourage people to call us before they come here," Motlow said. "We can do most of what you do here without you having to come in here."
County Administrator Brenda Bryant said the public is welcome to come to the County Commission office but she recommends calling to make sure individual courthouse offices are open, or to make sure an appointment isn't needed.
"The deputies are doing a fantastic job up front, letting people know where they need to go," Bryant said. "If people will just call the departments heads, we'll work with them for whatever they need."
Motlow said the courthouse can email documents to residents if needed. He said his office does not have to work on court-related matters right now, so that frees up time for his employees to email the documents.
"We can provide services, and also want to keep the public and our employees safe," he said. "There may be a little inconvenience to the public, and it might create a little bit of a delay, but we're in a state of emergency and everyone is inconvenienced."
His office is operating on a rotating staff for now. That way, if someone gets infected, it would not affect all of the employees.
"One group works a day on, and then the next group runs a day," Motlow said. "We're not as busy, and I'm trying to keep our staff from interacting with each other."
The Colbert County Courthouse remains closed to the general public, County Administrator Roger Creekmore said.
Some county employees remain on the job, such as probate office employees who are processing license tags. Creekmore said the commission office is operating with a small crew.
“Court proceedings mandated by the state of Alabama still carry on, so we’re allowing access to the courts based upon direction from the court system, meaning the judges,” Creekmore said.
He said a retired deputy sheriff has been going outside and explaining the situation to members of the public who might not be aware the courthouse is closed.
“Myself and the commission are very appreciative of the public and their response to what was done,” Creekmore said. “People coming to the courthouse are being great about this.”