County courthouse reopens Monday with restrictions

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County’s courthouse will be open again to the public on Monday, May 18 with specific restrictions meant to reduce person-to-person contact in offices.

Morgan County Commissioners issued guidelines for a reopening of the courthouse during a live-streamed public meeting on Wednesday, May 6.

Unrestricted access to the courthouse was closed on March 23 – nearly two months ago – as health officials urged closure of public buildings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

At that time, Morgan County had no cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Two months later, there have been 17 confirmed cases of the disease in county residents, with no deaths attributed to it.

West Virginia Supreme Court officials last week issued new guidelines for opening courthouses and starting in-person court hearings, beginning on Monday, May 18.

Under the county’s rules, the County Commission is asking the public to follow certain protocols when coming to the courthouse to conduct public business.

  • Citizens must schedule an appointment with the office they need to visit to conduct business.
  • Only one member of the public is to be in each office at a time.
  • Each person coming into the courthouse will have their temperature checked with a no-touch thermometer. Anyone with a fever will not be permitted to go further into the building.
  • Each person entering the courthouse will be asked screening questions about physical symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Any person entering who is not wearing a mask or face covering will be encouraged to do so. If available, masks will be provided.

Courthouse employees have continued to work in staggered shifts or schedules throughout the building closure, doing business by phone or electronic means. Documents have been shared by email or fax, and drop boxes have been placed outside the building to take tax payments and absentee ballot applications.