Store policies in Ohio shift amid COVID-19

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Plastic cases force customers to stand back from the counter, which is shielded with plexiglass barriers at Advance Auto Parts in Eaton. Photo by Drew Edwards

By Drew Edwards

Advance Auto Parts in Eaton, Ohio, has undergone several changes to the store hours, policies and normal check-outs due to COVID-19.

My boyfriend, Taylor Dyer, has been an employee at the store for a year, and under Ohio’s shutdown rules, is considered an essential worker and has worked during the pandemic.

But the pandemic has prompted a lot of changes to the job and changes to what is normalcy for the workers.

Taylor and his co-workers arrive at work wearing face masks that they must continue to wear during their entire shift. “The face masks can be uncomfortable, but I wear it to keep my co-workers, customers and family safe,” he said.

Along with wearing a mask, Taylor washes his hands and uses hand sanitizer several times in between customers, especially when handling cash.

With the stay-at-home order still in place, there are many people in Eaton, Ohio who cannot go to work. Some of those people are using the time off to work on their cars.

“A lot of older men have been coming into the store and buying things to fix their cars because they have the time to do it now,” Taylor said. “These people are still worried about the virus, but they are also seeing this as a time to do some things they struggled to find time for in the past.” 

During this difficult time, it is important to find things to do to keep your mental health maintained as well as your immune system.

Like other businesses that are still open, Advance Auto Parts has changed many things about the store. The week of March 18, Advance’s corporate office changed hours for all stores in the chain to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., instead of 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., until further notice. The shorter hours mean smaller paychecks for many employees.

General Manager Stacy Williams has placed large storage crates in front of the check-out counters so that customers stay six feet away from her employees. Plexi-glass barriers are now along edges of the counters when a customer must use the pin-pad. “I care about my employees along with my customers and I will do what I can to keep them safe,” Williams said.

During this time, everyone is experiencing all kinds of changes, especially the ones that are considered essential and have learned that being essential means being extra careful. 

Drew Edwards is a junior at Miami, majoring in integrated English language arts education.