Workers assist visitors to South Portland City Hall. The building opened on July 1 to walk-in service for car registrations and absentee ballot filings. All other business still requires an appointment. Photo: Sean Murphy

SOUTH PORTLAND — City officials have partially reopened City Hall, but there are still restrictions, according to City Manager Scott Morelli.

“People should request an appointment, but can also just show up to City Hall if they want to cast an absentee ballot,” he said. “That and car registrations do not require appointments.”

City officials initially closed city hall on March 17 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with plans to ultimately reopen in some fashion on July 1. On July 7, clerks inside the building were too busy to talk, but all city employees were wearing masks. Outside, signs at the front doors directed visitors to the rear entrance, where workers waited under a tent to greet visitors. A large padlocked box was available with a slot for depositing absentee ballots, and workers were on hand to greet visitors.

“It’s going OK,” said Stella Main, an employee of the South Portland Community Center temporarily reassigned to greeter duty. “People are happy to be getting their cars registered.”

A sign on the back door at South Portland City Hall warns visitors to wear a mask. The city recently opened to limited walk-in service. Photo: Sean Murphy

Visitors are required to wear masks, she said, but added, “We have some here if they don’t have one.”

Karen Harvey, another community center employee, said the city is still only allowing three people into the building at a time for car registrations. Those waiting in line have to stand 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing. On Tuesday, there were only about four people waiting, and visitors did not appear to have to wait long, but Harvey said sometimes there’s quite the queue.

“There’s been other days when it’s all around the building,” she said.

Despite that, Harvey said people are good-natured and observe rules about social distancing and wearing masks.

“Most people understand that that’s the way it’s got to be,” she said.

Rosellen Taylor was one of the people waiting in line Tuesday. She bought a new car, a Honda HR-V, back in March, and hasn’t been able to register it since.

“It’s good,” she said of the re-opening. “I’m glad they’re opening up, makes things a little easier.”

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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