Ontario DriveTest centres reopen with ‘limited services’
DriveTest centres in Ontario reopened on Monday morning for the first time in three months. And staff were inundated with eager motorists wanting their licences.
All DriveTest centres were closed on March 23 to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Jaylynn Jones, a 19-year-old Humber student, waited for four hours Tuesday until she could take her G1 exam. She said the physical distancing measures (that have been) implemented inside the DriveTest centre are good.
“It’s very good, it’s organized. They have sections for people and they only allow four people per line to keep us apart,” Jones said, who passed her test.
The Ministry of Transportation announced all 56 full-time centres will be offering limited services in the light of the ongoing pandemic.
The DriveTest centres are expected to resume full-services by September following a phased-in approach to reopening as laid out by the Ontario government. The ministry said the gradual approach ensures strict protocols are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In the first phase of reopening, the DriveTest centres will offer G1 and M1 knowledge tests, driver’s license exchanges, commercial driver’s license applications and upgrades, and commercial road tests at 28 locations across the province.
The Ontario government extended the validity of all Ontario driver’s license indefinitely until further notice for Ontario drivers whose licenses expired on or after March 1.
In written responses to questions from Humber News on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation said no one will lose their license as a result of COVID-19.
“DriveTest will require visitors to wear their own face covering and complete a health screening questionnaire prior to entry into the building,” wrote Lee Alderson, senior issues advisor with the Ministry of Transportation, in an email.
Alderson said the first phase addresses the backlog and demand for G1 and M1 tests and to ensure commercial road tests are available to support the movement of goods across the province.
The ministry is encouraging people who can wait to get a driver’s license to delay visiting a DriveTest centre. It’s to help maintain physical distancing and reducing crowding of facilities.
The ministry limited customer access to DriveTest centres based on drivers’ birth months to enforce physical distancing and to reduce crowding.
People with birthdays between January and June are allowed this week. People with birthdays between July and December will be attended to in the following week.
The access to DriveTest services will cycle weekly until full services resume in the fall.
Customers are mandated to wear face masks inside DriveTest centres and during road tests, except for motorcycles, sanitize their hands when entering a DriveTest office and undergo temperature checks prior to road tests.
Physical distancing floor markers, automated door monitors at medium and large sized centres will help direct customers inside DriveTest centres.
The ministry said that anyone who is feeling sick, have travelled outside of the country in the last 14 days (exceptions will be made for commercial drivers) or have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed inside the centre.
“Drivers who have a temperature will have their test canceled without penalty,” Alderson said.
All front line DriveTest staff will wear personal protective equipment. The examiners conducting road tests will be equipped with face shields, sanitizers and seat covers.
But the long lineups did cause a few hardships.
Twenty-two-year-old Gurdeep Dhillon, who accompanied his younger brother to the Downsview DriveTest centre, said one would have to spend a full day to get their driving license.
“I was here at 6:30 a.m. in the morning and the line was up the back of the street,” he said.
Dhillon said there were no washrooms provided outside for people waiting in the lines.
“They (should) do something because the pace at which the line is moving is too slow,” Dhillon said.