Assistant Town Manager Larissa Crockett, left, helps a resident visiting town hall to conduct business. The town hall opened on Wednesday for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown in March. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

SCARBOROUGH — Scarborough Assistant Town Manager Larissa Crockett stood in front of the entrance to Town Hall Wednesday morning with a reusable mask over the lower half of her face and a box of disposable face masks tucked under her arm.

Town Hall opened at 8 a.m. for the first time since March 17. It had been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Now residents can conduct business at many town offices in person, but there have been some changes, including a requirement for all visitors to wear masks. If they don’t have one, Crockett will provide one.

“I’ve got a whole case in my office, ready to go,” she said.

New hand sanitizer dispensers, like this one on the wall next to the elevator on the main floor, are some of the changes Scarborough town officials made before re-opening town hall to the public this week. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

But, she said, in the first three hours Town Hall had been open, she only needed to give out two of them. Most people, she said, understood the need to stay safe. Along with the mask requirement, Crockett said, hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed throughout the building and little circles dot the floors to assist people in maintaining social distance. Restroom usage is restricted to the main floor and due to cutbacks in staff hours, the offices will only be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays.

Crockett said many services are still available by phone or online, but some things, such as registering a car for the first time in the town, applying for a clamming license, getting a marriage license and making late payments on property taxes must be done in person.

Town Clerk Tody Justice, also masked, was on duty in her office Wednesday morning, standing in front of a clear plastic shield hanging over the counter between her and customers.

“I think they’ll be a permanent fixture for a while,” she said of the shields, which were a visible sign of coronavirus precautions throughout the building.

Her office was relatively quiet on Wednesday, but the coronavirus has had an impact on her work, too. She said many residents are already applying for absentee ballots for elections this fall. About six people came in that morning alone, but she has fielded in total more than 800 such requests, most of them by phone or online. While Scarborough tends to have a lot of absentee ballot voters – about 50% on average, Justice said – seeing this many requests so early in the year is unusual. She said it’s possible that concerns about exposure are prompting more people to want to vote remotely this year.

“I think people are being very conscious when it comes to that,” she said.

Across the hall from her office, lines snaked out the door from the registration office, mostly from people looking to get their vehicles registered.

Assistant Town Manager Larissa Crockett, left, gives guidance to resident Sam Rothman, who had come to get his truck registered. Vehicle registrations were the most popular task residents came to town hall to do Wednesday, Crockett said. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

“That’s been (the need) almost exclusively, which was what we were expecting,” Crockett said.

In all, she guessed at least 100 people came in to Town Hall Wednesday morning, and she screened them all, checking for masks and offering guidance on where people needed to go once inside.

Local resident Sam Rothman, who approached the building with the lower half of his face properly covered, said he was looking forward to finally registering his new truck, a Ford F150, which he’s had to drive around on an extended temporary plate since Town Hall was closed when he bought it.

“It worked out fine,” he said. “I’d just like to get some actual plates on it.”

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