ST PAUL, Minn. — The line of cars at the Plymouth Drivers Exam Station stretched out for more than three blocks as employees unlocked the gates at 8 a.m. Tuesday, a scene that likely repeated itself across Minnesota as the state's Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) division reopened for business.
And while there was business for the first time in nearly two months since operations were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was definitely not business as usual. Screeners walked from car to car before they were allowed to enter the grounds, asking drivers and passengers a series of health questions and performing temperature checks.
DVS announced late last week that starting today (Tuesday, May 19) exam stations in 14 locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to serve customers statewide. The locations are in St. Paul, Arden Hills, Anoka, Eagan, Plymouth, Rochester, Mankato, Marshall, Willmar, Detroit Lakes, St. Cloud, Duluth, Grand Rapids, and Bemidji.
Between May 19 and May 26 those locations will offer knowledge tests, permit applications, motorcycle and commercial driver’s license (CDL) road tests.
Class D license road tests will resume May 26, with those who have had appointments cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic given first priority for appointments. Each location will add an extra hour of operation between 7 and 8 a.m. by appointment only.
New appointments are not available at this time while DVS works to erase the backlog of canceled tests.
DVS says its Brainerd location was scheduled to open but will not due to a fire at city hall Monday. The location in Fairmont will open May 26 for road tests only.
"Thank you for your patience during this uncertain and stressful time for all Minnesotans. DPS-DVS has been working very hard to find safe, fair solutions to resume services that have been unavailable during the stay at home order,” Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services Director Emma Corrie said in a written statement. “We are prioritizing the needs of Minnesotans who couldn’t take their knowledge or road test during the past several weeks by allowing DPS-DVS exam station staff to focus on testing services.”
DVS says remaining exam stations statewide will remain closed.
Despite the reopening of the 16 stations, DVS insists it will not be business as ususal: Precautions will be taken to guard both employees and customers against COVID-19. The department will follow guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines, which include:
Wellness screenings for staff and customers
DVS staff will be asked health-screening questions before starting their workday. DVS staff will ask customers the same series of health-screening questions before they enter the exam station including:
- Have you been in close and prolonged physical contact (within less than 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with an individual who has tested positive for or been diagnosed with COVID-19, or exposed to their cough or sneeze, within the last 14 calendar days; or have you tested positive for or been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 calendar days?
- Have you had a fever or felt feverish in the past 72 hours?
- Have you taken any fever-reducing medication to reduce a fever in the past 72 hours?
- Have you had cough, shortness of breath, or any other symptoms of COVID-19 (muscle aches, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell) within the last 72 hours?
DVS staff will conduct a temperature check (optional). If the DVS staff or a customer has a fever of 100.4 or higher, answers “yes” to any of the health screening questions, or refuses to answer the questions they will not be allowed to enter the exam stations.
- Exam stations will have social distancing signs and floor decals to help customers and staff maintain the recommended six feet social distance.
- Plexiglass is installed at counters to provide a barrier between customers and exam staff.
- Lines may be longer and extend outside at exam stations due to the required six feet between customers. Customers should dress for the elements and plan accordingly.
Personal Protective Equipment
- DVS staff will wear a face mask inside exam stations. DVS recommends customers wear face masks while inside exam stations for the safety of staff and customers. Face masks are required for class D road tests.
- DVS staff will wear gloves.
- DVS will provide hand sanitizer to use while inside exam stations and will have sanitizing wipes to disinfect the counter area in between customers.
The DVS exam stations in Arden Hills, St. Paul and Mankato are offering a virtual lobby. You can check in virtually when you arrive and receive a text message when it’s your turn at the counter. This is a pilot program that DPS-DVS is working to expand to other open exam stations as well.
Only the applicant is allowed inside the exam station unless they are younger than 18, in which case a parent or guardian must accompany them. This will help customers and staff maintain social distance.
Independently owned and operated deputy registrar and driver’s license agent offices can reopen to offer their normal driver and vehicle services at their counters beginning May 18. Visit the DVS locations page to find a list of offices and services.