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COVID-19: Courthouses closed to public until April 5

The Escambia County Courthouse is closed to the public until April 5 starting Wednesday due to the coronavirus. Joining the federal and state governments, the commission voted and approved the declaration of a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic at a special called meeting on Tuesday.

During the meeting, the Escambia County commission and other elected county officials considered the closure. “First thing is to recognize this is unchartered territory. This is a challenge that is facing the county, the state, the country—well it’s the world, and in our lifetimes we have not had this type of outbreak of a virus to deal with. No one really knows exactly what the best thing to do is, but the best thing you can do is err on the side of precaution,” said County Administrator Tony Sanks. Sanks explained that the closure is simply out of precaution; as of right now there are no confirmed cases in the county.

The satellite courthouses are closed as well, officials said.

The preventative measure is to ensure the health and safety of all residents and employees. The decision did not come without thorough consideration. Consulting with every head of office in the courthouse before and during the meeting, the commission considered the benefits to closing now in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

“This virus does not pay attention to state and county lines. It is easily transmittable and it is something we really need to pay attention to,” said Sanks.

Meeting with other county commissioners throughout the state on Mon., Chairman Karean Reynolds shared an update from the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.

“We had an Alabama Association County Commission meeting yesterday. The Gov. gave a report from our task force on this particular topic. The CDC website had 36 confirmed cases this afternoon in the state. Throughout the state of Ala. 40% of our hospital beds are being used. The CDC recommended that you do not engage in social gatherings of 20, the President took it to 10,” said Reynolds.

With these facts in hand, Reynolds and the commission reached out to elected officials for guidance in the matter.

“I want to thank our elected officials for working on this with us. Thank you for giving of your time to help us make this difficult decision,” said Reynolds.

Addressing the room about the rapidly changing climate surrounding the virus, Sanks explained the great need for social distancing. “Today, the surgeon general said that we have the same number of cases today as Italy did two weeks ago. If we don’t take big measures now, in two weeks where will we be? I think it is important to make every effort you can to reduce contact with the public and with our employees.”

Following the recommendations by elected officials, the CDC, state and federal governments, the commission deemed it in the best interest of the citizens of Escambia County to close the courthouse and declare a state of emergency.

With this declaration the following will go into effect:

  1. Escambia County facilities shall be closed to the public through April 5, 2020.
  2. The Chairman, Vice Chairman, and County Administrator are hereby authorized to execute the necessary contracts, agreements, and other documents necessary for the continuity of government under the provisions of the Code of Alabama, §31-9-10(b).
  3. The Sheriff’s Office, County Jail, Emergency Management, County Commission & Administration, ECATS, Agency on Aging and Road Department & Engineering are departments providing essential services to the public or support services and shall continue to operate.
  4. All employees will continue to be paid during the time that the county facilities are closed.

 

During the closure, the court system of Ala. will remain open; however, all in-person trials have been suspended until next month. Residents will still be able to contact local officials. Contact information will be posted on the door of the courthouse. The contact information is listed below for all individuals needing assistance during the closure.

Contact Information for the Escambia County Courthouse:

If you are unable to enter this facility here are the contacts for essential services that you may contact:

  1. If you are represented by an attorney, please contact your attorney.
  2. For Circuit Court matters and filings, please contact:

Circuit Clerk 251-867-0225; EXT. 225

  1. For District Court matters and filings please contact

Circuit Clerk 251-867-0225; EXT. 225

  1. For Small Claims matters and filings, please contact:

Circuit Clerk 251-867-0225; EXT. 225

  1. For District Attorney:   251-867-0239
  2. For Probate Services, please contact:

Probate Chief Clerk: 251-238-4782

  1. For Tax Collector: 251-867-0209 or 251-867-0213
  2. For Tax Assessor: 251-867-0214
  3. For Probation services, please contact:

State Probation: 251-867-9281

  1. For all other matters, please contact:

County Administrator: 251-867-0231

These limited restrictions will remain in place until further notice.