WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — For the first time in nearly four months, the Luzerne County Courthouse is fully open but some coronavirus-related restrictions are still in place.
County officials tell Eyewitness News that throughout the pandemic, they never knew when the day would come. Now, Luzerne County is in the ‘green’ phase and new cases of COVID-19 in the area are declining, they feel confident that now is the time to get back up and running.
Strict guidlelines remain in place. Among them, a white tent at the back of the courthouse where people going inside must stop for a screening.
“We’re going to ask you a few questions whether you traveled to any of the states on the CDC guildines for the red spots within past seven days,” Luzerne County Sheriff Brian Szumski explained. “There might be a wait depending on what you are here for because of the social distancing guidleines. We have to keep space and make sure our occupancy are at levels we we can maitain that space.”
A chart is used to keep track of how many people are inside the courthouse at any given moment.
“We have a lot of small rooms so the amount of people that can be in there at any one time is rather small. So they keep track of people who go into the courthouse who are in that room. When they come back out they check them at the door to find out what office they came from,” Tim McGinley, Luzerne County Council Chairman said.
Legal proceedings are once again being held in the courtrooms but people are spaced further apart from each other. Fewer people are allowed inside and social distancing is being strictly enforced.
Fancine Alapick, a 75-year-old Pittston resident came into the courthouse on Monday to pay her taxes. She says she had no problems with the ‘new normal’.
“It’s better this way. We all know what has gone through in our lives. It’s like, a change but its maybe for the best. In time it will maybe die down. You never know, maybe not, you never know,” Alapick said.
County Council will also be discussing the possibility of one again meeting at the courthouse. For the past several months, they have been held online.