More than 100 people stood in line Wednesday morning at the state Registry of Motor Vehicles location in the Haymarket section of Boston, one of eight customer service centers that reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some patrons told the Globe they opted to go to the Haymarket location after struggling to complete their transactions online. Lyft driver Ronnie Were, 50, of Chelsea, was among the customers who ventured out. He was hoping to get a new vehicle registration.
"Why can’t they just have it all open up and just do the same thing instead of cramming a hundred people on [one] spot? It just doesn’t make sense,” Were said.
His comments were echoed by 26-year-old Dozie Amanze, a Lynn resident who was standing in line to get his license renewed.
“The line is just insane,” said Amanze, a project manager whose license expires in two weeks. "It’s ridiculous to have this many people here waiting. ... I’m trying to get it renewed right now because who knows what’s going to happen in two weeks?”
In a statement, the registry said the centers that reopened Wednesday were located in Boston/Haymarket, Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Pittsfield, Plymouth, and Worcester. A registry spokesman said via e-mail that the Springfield location also reopened Wednesday. The registry said it’s asking people who don’t have immediate needs for in-person services to delay their visits, and customers shouldn’t bring multiple people with them, in an effort to assist with social distancing and reduce volume.
More than 40 registry transactions can be conducted online at www.mass.gov/rmv, the agency said.
According to the statement, AAA locations will continue to offer select RMV services to members, but road tests will be suspended indefinitely. Road tests for learner’s permit holders at all RMV locations will be postponed through at least Mar. 20, the statement said, and testing will only resume after cleaning, personal protective equipment, and “social distancing protocols” have been established to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
And RMV hearings at the Pittsfield location, which are normally held every Wednesday, are slated to resume March 25, the statement said.
In addition, learner’s permits dated between Mar. 1 and April 30 will remain on active status for 60 days after the printed expiration date, officials said. As of Mar. 16, that same 60-day extension holds true for Class D and Class DM driver’s licenses and ID cards, the statement said. However, the extension doesn’t apply to commercial driver’s licenses or to residents whose stay in the US is on the same schedule as the expiration date on their driver’s licenses, ID cards, or permits.
The registry has also adopted enhanced cleaning practices for its facilities, bought more contactless hand sanitizer dispensing stations, issued anti-viral disinfectant wipes and individual-sized hand sanitizers to some employees, and expanded areas for disinfection, according to the statement.
In addition, the registry stressed that it has continued critical “back office” functions, even when all registry customer service locations closed on Monday and Tuesday. Those functions include ensuring that license discipline continues, as well as processing drivers’ convictions for infractions both in and out of state, officials said.
That work came under heavy scrutiny in June of last year. when a West Springfield man allegedly crashed his truck into a group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire, killing seven people, at a time when his commercial driver’s license should have been suspended following a prior drunk driving arrest in Connecticut.
On Wednesday morning, one customer standing in line at the Haymarket RMV stood with his 4-month-old daughter. The man, who would only identify himself as David, said he and his wife have a pressing financial concern that can only be addressed if he gets a new license.
"We’re closing on a home equity line of credit, and I need to renew my license to get approved,” he said. “I just figured out recently it expired.”