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Tulsa County Courthouse prepares to reopen Monday

Posted at 8:39 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 23:17:49-04

TULSA, Okla. — Business is slowly going back to normal at the Tulsa County Courthouse. It's reopening to the public on Monday after two months of limited access, and there are some changes inside.

When people walk in the courthouse Monday, they’re going to be required to put on a mask. They could be asked a series of questions. Hand sanitizing stations are placed throughout the courthouse and signs ask people to stay six-feet apart.

One area they are worried about people social distancing at is the small elevators.

“Somebody that’s physically capable of doing the stairs, take the stairs," said Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler. "Let those elevators be made available to the people that have physical infirmities or ailments.”

This is just phase one of the courthouse reopening plan. They’re still trying to limit the number of people coming in. Some court cases won’t resume until at least June 1, and for those that do happen over the next two weeks, courtrooms are limited to 10 people.

“If you have a reason to be at the courthouse, especially on a criminal case, I can certainly tell you if you’re a defendant, you’re out of custody and you’ve got an attorney, talk to your attorney. There’s really no reason for you to be here for these next two weeks," Kunzweiler said.

One of the busiest areas in the courthouse is the court clerk’s office.

Tulsa County Court Clerk Don Newberry said, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, 200 to 400 people were going through the office per hour. They’ve developed several ways to get that number down. Instead of coming to their office to get a traffic ticket resolved, they’ve set up a phone number for someone who got a ticket to call. Attorneys can also email their case filings instead of bringing them in. One area that’s remained busy is marriage licenses. Couples were having to wait outside the office but now can go inside.

“We have lines set up to help with the flow of the traffic," Newberry said. "We have stations set up over here also to help with the flow of traffic.”

Offices in the courthouse are also getting glass barriers to protect the employees and the public.

“We’re very aggressively trying to make it where it’s receptive to the public," Kunzweiler said. "Trying to avoid bringing people down here that don’t need to be here until we are completely comfortable with getting the ball on the road.”

There are also different entrances depending on your reason for being at the courthouse. The plaza entrance is for court participants only. The Denver St. entrance is for county personnel and citizens with county business.

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