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U.S. Treasury Secretary: Signing Agents Are Part Of ‘Essential Services’ During COVID-19 Emergency

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U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin issued a statement this week clarifying that all workers — including Signing Agents and mobile Notaries — who provide services in the nation’s financial and other essential critical infrastructure may continue to perform their duties. At the same time, Notaries must still follow all guidelines issued by federal, state and local authorities to protect public health, maintain appropriate safety precautions and should not accept assignments if there is risk of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The federal guidance was welcome news for Signing Agents during the critical end-of-the-month period when most mortgage loans are closed and signing agents are in high demand. 

In his letter dated March 22, Secretary Mnuchin clarified that workers in critical sectors of the financial industry — including workers and key third-party service providers for “settlement services,” such as Notary Signing Agents — should be allowed to continue normal operations and work schedules.

“These individuals are critical to maintaining safe and efficient financial services and ensuring citizens have access to these services that are necessary to conduct their daily lives,” Mnuchin wrote. “If you work in a critical infrastructure sector, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”

However, he added, essential workers must also comply with guidelines issued by organizations such as the Center for Disease Control, state and local officials to protect public health. Notary Signing Agents should check official sources and their contracting parties to stay informed about any guidelines in place in their area, and only accept assignments that comply with these official health safety instructions. When on assignment, Signing Agents should continue to follow recommended COVID-19 health and safety precautions.

The Notary Bulletin will continue to provide critical updates on changes to notarial practices procedures as they occur amid the COVID-19 crisis.

 

22 Comments

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Teresa Gyure

25 Mar 2020

This is not true in Pennsylvania. Our Naics code lists us as Legal not Financial and our SOS says we are NOT essential.

National Notary Association

25 Mar 2020

Hello. As stated in the article, Signing Agents and mobile Notaries are still required to follow federal, state and local health safety directives, If there is a state or local directive that requires you to stay home or shelter in place, you should follow it. Signing Agents should always check information from state and local officials and follow any COVID-19 related orders for your area.

WAYNE M CIULLO

25 Mar 2020

GREAT NEWS FROM THE US TREASURY SECRETARY FOR ALL HARD WORKING NOTARY SIGNING AGENTS. STAY SAFE AND STAY HEALTHY.

Roberta Arnone

25 Mar 2020

The NNA has no legal authority over the residents of the State of New York. The NYS Governor explicitly required all non-essential professionals work from home and provided remote online notarization procedures to follow through April 18, 2020. Each time a contractor violates local law, they place their own life and the lives of others in jeopardy. A Bank has notaries to perform these tasks and the resources to adequately protect their employees and the public. I do not agree with this publication encouraging title companies to exploit the poor to lure them to work at a time when they should stay home. Two trillion dollars was just spent to keep everyone at home. Closings should be performed at the bank or adjourned until May 1, 2020.

National Notary Association

25 Mar 2020

Hello. Just to clarify, this information was not issued by the NNA, but by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. As stated in the article, Signing Agents and mobile Notaries are still required to follow federal, state and local health safety directives, If there is a state or local directive that requires you to stay home or shelter in place, you should follow it. Signing Agents should always check information from state and local officials and follow any COVID-19 related orders for your area before accepting assignments.

Anizio M Dos Santos

25 Mar 2020

Are we allowed to do remote signings in Florida?

National Notary Association

25 Mar 2020

Hello. Yes, Florida authorizes qualified Notaries to perform remote notarizations. Please see here for more information how to become a remote online Notary in Florida: https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/about-notaries/how-to-become-a-notary-public/how-to-become-a-remote-online-notary#FloridaRON

Lisa

25 Mar 2020

Its great that we are a part of the critical supply chain and infrastructure of mortgage banking BUT we still are part of the chain that has to meet IN PERSON (unless RON state). How are we supposed to conduct a closing 6 feet away in an open area? Can someone please produce a video showing the possibility of doing it like this or any other 'safe' way to keep us notaries away from this deadly virus? As far as I am aware, everyone else in the chain can work from a computer without contact. I'm not thrilled at all with the financial loss I'm dealing with either!

National Notary Association

25 Mar 2020

Hello Lisa. Several states have issued emergency measures permitting Notaries to use RON or other alternative methods of notarization to help prevent possible COVID-19 risk during notarizations. A list and details can be found in this article: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/03/states-emergency-action-remote-notarization and we are updating it with new information as we receive it from state officials. Also, guidance for maintaining social distancing while performing signings can be found here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/03/notaries-precautions-coronavirus. Again, it is important to remember that all Notaries should follow federal, state and local directives regarding health safety.

Teb

25 Mar 2020

Has Missouri started RON ?

National Notary Association

26 Mar 2020

Hello. We have not received information for any special Notary guidance issued by Missouri officials yet. However, this situation is very fluid and subject to rapid change. If we receive any word from state officials about changes, we will update our coverage in the Bulletin to let you know as soon as possible.

Elizabeth T Simonian

26 Mar 2020

We are able to work in Florida at this time according to the Executive Order.

Christa Centolella

26 Mar 2020

We have to follow our Gov orders for work at home and he authorized to do web cam notarization with specific guidelines to follow. we are NOT supposed to be going into people's homes at this time. its is NOT an option and many are misinterpreting the order given thinking its an option, only if the borrower does not electronic means. 85% have it avail to them.

Liselote Reyes Ocasio

26 Mar 2020

Hi everyone, it’s important to clarify that the “Stay at Home Order” and public health officials order to “Shelter in place,” does not apply to essential critical infrastructure workers, [specifically Notaries].  These orders exempt businesses, agencies and essential critical infrastructure workers.  “if you work in the financial services critical infrastructure sector, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”  Notaries are identified as essential critical infrastructure workers, within the Homeland Security definition of the financial services critical infrastructure sector, during the COVID-19 response emergency;’  Accordingly, Notaries have a special responsibility to maintain [their] normal work schedule.  Essential critical infrastructure workers, [specifically Notaries], are required to “follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state and local officials regarding strategies to limit disease spread.” I applaud New York’s Governor for providing interim remote online notarization procedures for notaries to follow, through April 18, 2020. As an NNA member, I strongly feel that the NNA as an organization could take this opportunity to urge and assist the governor of California to implement similar online notarization procedures in California on behalf of Notaries. It’s a strategy, preventive measure and interim emergency response against the spread of the COVID-19. that can ensure the safety of Notaries, their families, communities, clients and general public. E-notarizations on platforms like Pavaso and Doc Verify are already set up for remote notarizations and offer training. The point is, most of us are already familiar with e-notarizations, with the assistance of the NNA we can ensure that whatever training and testing is done on these platforms meets and maintains the high standards that both the NNA and Secretary of State have set for their Notaries Notaries should not have to put their lives and the lives of their families, clients, community and public at risk to keep the financial system going when there is an interim emergency response against the spread of COVID-19 that can “ensure the continued operations of the financial services sector in support of our Nation’s economy” without jeopardizing anyone.

John C Johnston

26 Mar 2020

NYS notaries cannot do out-of-state signings unless they are licensed in that state as well. Further, the lending institutions, that we work for, are managed by contractors that do not pay for, or reimburse for, mileage we must travel to perform the service. Per diem is unheard of unless you are an attorney. Robo signings, using encryption can be implemented by phone for the 20% who are systems challenged; the rest can be done by teleconference. These signings are not essential and I will only do them from my home online or by phone.

Michael Gilman

27 Mar 2020

NY State did approve that all Notaries in the State are authorized temporarily to complete Remove Video Notarizations Here is the link: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2027-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency?utm_campaign=Membership&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=85038394&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9Oy9YUdjlWud-7MMy-5DXYHIBCKS8GnyrUCUJca_bJXG8hr0Vra6jXFdFOGNwi4WPNycEMTxlTTCaB6elvHrd8bFXPxQ&_hsmi=85038394

National Notary Association

27 Mar 2020

Hello Michael. Thanks for sharing this. We've also added this information to our article on state emergency COVID-19 guidelines: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2020/03/states-emergency-action-remote-notarization

Darci Coleman

27 Mar 2020

I am from Florida and am still working for title companies and performing signings all over Florida. I use gloves, new pens each signing, the buyers wash hands before sitting at my freshly sanitized table, and i have a plexiglass portable partition between me and them. The docs are passed below the partition. Noone sits in the closing but the borrowers who must sign. If they need language assistance i have them put their realtor etc on speaker and we proceed. It works out very well.

neda zeidan

01 Apr 2020

Hello , are notary public in california illegible to apply for disaster loan assistant ? because the people are afraid to come due to social distance and the pandemic . please advise , thanks

National Notary Association

01 Apr 2020

Hello. Information on disaster loan assistance eligibility for businesses in California can be found here: https://www.caloes.ca.gov/cal-oes-divisions/recovery/disaster-recovery-assistance-for-individuals-businesses-private-non-profits-farmers-ranchers

David Ali Williams

18 Apr 2020

How do I increase my notary bond to the Florida State required level of doing Remote Online Notarizations?

National Notary Association

20 Apr 2020

Hello. If you wish to obtain a bond through the NNA, you can find more information here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/florida/insurance

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