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Lakewood Township keeps people waiting in line happy with pastries, porta johns and bottled water at the Motor Vehicle Agency in town.

Asbury Park Press

EATONTOWN –  The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has shut down its Eatontown licensing and regional center for nearly two weeks after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The center will be cleaned and remain closed until Saturday, Oct. 24, “once contact tracers have cleared a sufficient number of employees to reopen or any required quarantine is complete,” the MVC said in a statement Monday evening.

The employee who tested positive was last inside the facility on Friday, Oct. 9, the agency said.

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Long lines form as the sun rises over the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in Eatontown, NJ Friday, September 25, 2020. (Photo: Tanya Breen)

Road test operations at the Eatontown center are in a separate facility and will remain open for appointments while the licensing center is closed. The inspection station will be closed Tuesday but will resume normal operations Wednesday, the MVC said.

Three other MVC facilities in Newark, Paterson and North Bergen are also currently closed after employees contracted the virus.

HOW WE GOT HERE: NJ MVC closes third location this month after employee tests positive for COVID-19

Customers have already faced persistent long lines outside MVC centers since they reopened in July following a months-long closure caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency asked customers to check its website for a list of alterative licensing and regional centers. Freehold and Toms River are nearby MVC licensing sites and Trenton is the closest regional center to Eatontown, the agency said.

QUEUE UP: Hate the long lines? Agency says stop getting there early, you’re making it worse

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MVC has drawn heavy criticism in recent months for the long lines that have formed outside many of its facilities day after day. The agency has blamed the lines on social distancing restrictions and the backlog caused by the prolonged closure earlier this year, but also on customers who, hoping for an early spot in line, unnecessarily arrive hours before centers open for the day.

Officials have urged customers to check whether their transaction can be completed online first before showing up to a facility in person.

Andrew Goudsward: [email protected]; @agoudsward on Twitter.

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