Dallas County closed its tax offices to the public until further notice late Monday due to the rising COVID-19 infections among its employees. Dallas County Tax Assessor John Ames reported that more than 50 members of his staff, spread across seven offices, are out sick.

Employees at the Dallas County tax offices will continue to process paperwork online or by phone.

FOX 4 News reported that people who showed up to do business at tax offices in the county’s seven government centers were turned away by security guards.

In an interview with FOX 4 News, Rutha Barksdale said she has been trying to get a handicap parking tag. Barksdale said she had spoken to employees from the tax office the previous day over the phone and was told to bring her all her paperwork.

However, the offices were closed when Barksdale showed up on Tuesday to complete her business.

While the closure caught many residents by surprise, County officials maintained that offices had to be closed in the interest of public health. Ames told FOX 4 News that it was no longer “safe and secure” to keep the offices open.

“The worst thing we could do right now is put a crowd of people into a small area and have them spread the virus,” Ames said in the interview.

Ames added that it breaks his heart as a public servant to close the offices to the public. However, he maintained that closing the offices to the public was the best help he could offer them.

The offices will now remain closed to the public until further notice.