December 2, 2021

Unmasked employees at DMV raising concerns

Rhonda Maus said she was surprised and then angered by the response from Cortland County Department of Motor Vehicle employees after she questioned them about not wearing a mask this week.

“They do not get a ‘get-out-of-jailfree card’ to not be wearing a mask,” the Homer resident said Friday.

Maus said when she arrived Monday afternoon for an appointment at the DMV a female DMV employee, who was not wearing a mask, answered the door to let her in. Maus said she then realized that none of the employees behind the counter were wearing one, either.

Maus said when she questioned why they were not wearing masks, the employee said that the workers were on the other side of the barrier and didn’t need to have one on.

“The plexiglas is not very high,” she said. “I’m 5-foot-3 and I can very easily put my hand over the top.”

County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin told legislators Tuesday during a Judiciary and Public Safety Committee that she had received two complaints about employees not wearing masks.

“We do have the barriers that were always there,” she said. “Chuck (Miller, county maintenance supervisor) came in and put additional barriers up to at least 6 feet — I didn’t use the tape measure. They’re continuous, there is no break, not like when you go in the gas station and they’re hanging from the ceiling. These were placed on top. They’re in addition to the window barriers, they stretch all the way across.”

The only place the plexiglas barrier isn’t placed is where people take photos because employees wouldn’t be able to use the camera if it was there, she said.

Any time an employee leaves the enclosed counter area, the person must put on a mask, she added.

“There’s cameras there,” she said. “It’s videotaped — you can view exactly what goes on.”

Under safety requirements for state-run DMVs, everyone must wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot distance, according to the state DMV website. However, it’s unclear what is considered best practices for county-run DMVs, like Cortland. The state Health Department said to reach out to the state DMV.

DMV spokesman Tim O’Brien said local offices must comply with national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Maus said she wants to make sure that DMV employees follow Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order requiring people to wear a face mask when out in public.

“The DMV does not get a free pass,” she said.