The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday partially reopened four of its branches to begin offering in-person licensing and new vehicle registration services by appointment only, the latest in a series of steps toward resuming operations at one of the state's busiest agencies.
Road testing also resumed Tuesday, in partnership with private driving schools, to reduce a backlog of approximately 1,000 road tests that developed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They've now been rescheduled through June 30.
“Who would have thought everybody was missing DMV so much,” joked Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, as he stood outside the Waterbury branch where DMV customers with pre-scheduled appointments waited in their cars until being notified electronically to come inside the building. Branches in Bridgeport, Enfield and New Britain also partially reopened Tuesday for new registration and license services.
New registration services will begin June 30 at the Wethersfield, Willimantic, and Danbury branches. All in-person services, including out-of-state license and registration transfers, and commercial driver's license upgrades, now require an appointment which can be made online.
Meanwhile, additional locations reopened Tuesday for learner's permit knowledge tests. Offices in Wethersfield and Cheshire previously opened May 11 as part of a pilot program. Now, the tests will also be offered at offices in Willimantic, Old Saybrook, Norwalk, and Danbury by appointment only.
DMV Commissioner Sibongile “Bongi” Magubane praised DMV staff for their efforts to slowly reopen in a safe way, noting “this journey has not been easy.” She said the agency should be able to start handling more and more walk-in traffic at various branches over the next couple weeks.
“But we needed to start slow because we understand how this pandemic is,” she said. “So we’ve learned a lot in the last three months and we are extremely excited to be in this point.”
As of Tuesday, there have been 4,277 COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut, an increase of 14 since Monday. Meanwhile, there have been 45,899 positive cases, an increase of 117 since Monday, after nearly 402,000 tests have been conducted.
Hospitalizations continue to decline in the state. There were 138 people being hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a decline of two since Monday.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or lead to death.
In other coronavirus news in Connecticut:
The University of Connecticut will be cutting nonunion managers’ pay through furloughs and canceling their merit raises as the school grapples with a deficit of more than $50 million in the next academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
UConn President Thomas Katsouleas wrote in a recent letter to managers that most nonunion managers will be furloughed for the equivalent of one day a month in the new fiscal year that begins July 1. That would result in a pay reduction of just under 5% for the year.
Katsouleas said he and other senior managers with the highest pay will take the equivalent of two furlough days a month, equaling about a 10% pay cut.
The furloughs and cancellation of merit raises will save UConn an estimated $5 million, school spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said. They will apply at the main campus in Storrs, regional campuses and the School of Law. Similar furloughs will be taken at UConn Health, Katsouleas said.
Katsouleas also has asked unionized workers for concessions to help with the deficit, but some union leaders oppose the request citing past concessions.
UConn officials plan to present budget proposals Wednesday to the Board of Trustees, including $1.5 billion for the Storrs and regional campuses.
About 150 organizations from throughout Connecticut are asking Lamont to extend the state's moratorium on evictions past its expiration date of July 1, saying the coronavirus pandemic is not ending anytime soon and many people remain out of work.
The organizations, which include legal, religious, veterans', children's and disability rights groups, also are asking the governor in the petition announced Tuesday to provide more money for rent payment aid for people who cannot afford to pay their rent.
Lamont said Monday that he is looking into extending the eviction moratorium, and he expects there will be more funding made available for rent assistance. He said he worries many people will have dire financial situations when federal funding approved to help people during the pandemic, including supplemental unemployment aid, ends July 31.
The petition comes as eight landlords are suing Lamont over the eviction moratorium, saying it violates their constitutional rights.