After two weeks of again greeting the public following a prolonged closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Cullman County Courthouse will close once again on Friday for a top-to-bottom sanitization in the wake of new concerns that a county employee may have contracted the virus.

County commission chairman Kenneth Walker said that the June 19 closure will give cleaning contractors access to the entire building, days after the probate office on the building’s main floor closed suddenly in response to an unconfirmed report of a staff member’s possible infection.

“It will be a full cleaning — every room, closet, every office in the courthouse will be sanitized,” said Walker. “It’s just that one day, but the courthouse will be closed to the public this Friday.”

Probate Judge Tammy Brown shared news of her office’s temporary closure via social media on Monday, saying that employee confidentiality limited what she could say about whether a staff member had contracted the virus. During the weeks when the courthouse was closed to the public, Brown installed new glass barriers to separate staff from the public at all of her office’s windows, and required that all employees wear masks and maintain six feet of distancing while at work. The probate office is set to reopen on Monday, June 22.

Walker said the probate office is the only county or state office in the building that’s closed this week, and that, as of now, the commission does not plan to reassess its reopening strategy at its regular meeting on June 23. The courthouse reopened on May 13 with new social distancing procedures in place, following a two-month closure in compliance with a public health order from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

Walker also said he does not expect the pandemic to affect voting at the courthouse when the GOP primary runoff election arrives on July 14, and that there are no plans, as of now, to make any special accommodations at polling places — other than the social distancing guidelines advised by health officials. “That’s still a month out, and we’re hoping things are a little more settled down by then,” he explained.

Should the commission decide to implement election-day workarounds to encourage voter turnout, it has a recent court order on its side. On Monday a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit concerning voting practices for the upcoming runoff, holding that Alabama cannot prohibit local officials from offering curbside voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The injunction also loosened restrictions on casting absentee ballots in three other Alabama counties (Jefferson, Lee, and Mobile) because of the health risk to voters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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