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Essential businesses adjusting in midst of ‘Stay at Home’ orders from Gov. Polis

Big O Tires, located at 1111 West Victory Way in Centennial Mall, has had to change its staffing numbers due to public health recommendations in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Craig Press File

For many workers right now, the ability to work from home is comforting amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept across the world in recent months and recently made its way to Moffat County.

Essential workers at essential businesses, such as the power plant and mines, the hospital, restaurants, auto repair shops and grocery stores, to name a few…well, they still have to get ready for work and head out into the unknown, helping local economies run day to day.

It can be tough; things aren’t the way they once were right now, which has forced some essential businesses to change how they operate to fall into compliance with public health recommendations such as social distancing, as well as Governor Jared Polis’s stay at home order that he issued in mid-March.

BIG O TIRES ADJUSTS STAFFING

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Business for Big O Tires isn’t what it once was, which has forced owner Charlynne Wondra to cut daily staffing from the normal eight workers in the shop down to three, while also keeping workers on a half-day schedule so that everyone on the staff still accumulates hours.

“We’ve cut everybody to half days; it’s tough,” Wondra said. “That’s the main thing we’ve done so far.”

Wondra added that the business changed its hours from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. to a standard 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. window of operation.

With a small staff and shorter hours, workers have been able to practice social distancing while interacting safely with customers.

“We’ve started offering free pickup and delivery of vehicles so that people don’t need to leave their houses,” Wondra said. “We’re cleaning vehicles before we get into them, during service, and then cleaning it afterwards as well.

“We’re making sure everything we touch is wiped down, even the pin pads before and after use,” Wondra added.

Following President Trump’s extension of the social distancing to April 30, and a possible extension of the stay at home order for the state of Colorado coming soon, Wondra is trying to provide some normalcy in unprecedented times.

“We’re just trying to still give some regularity to our employees and our customers,” Wondra said. “We want them to feel as normal as possible in times that aren’t normal.”

MEMORIAL REGIONAL HEALTH

Healthcare is as essential of an industry as essential gets, regardless of living through a pandemic or not.

For Memorial Regional Health, staff is practicing social distancing as best as they can, but there’s no limit on staff currently, Vice President of Operations Jennifer Riley said.

“In departments that people can work remotely, we are encouraging them to work remotely to spread themselves out and be distant,” Riley said.

Riley did say that volume, in terms of patients seen, is down as far as out-patient clinics go, but the hospital has pivoted to telehealth recently, allowing patients to still be seen by their doctors without leaving their homes.

Inside the hospital, it’s business as usual for front-line healthcare workers.

Depending on the departments themselves, social distancing and proper procedures to protect staff are followed as much as possible. That includes the use of masks and other personal protective equipment to make sure that they themselves aren’t transmitting any germs, and aren’t receiving any germs either.

Additionally, MRH removed much of the seating inside the cafeteria, spaced out tables to comply with social distancing, and took additional precautionary steps with grab-and-go food to help keep staff safe.

RESTAURANTS LIMITING STAFF

Restaurants are struggling locally to stay afloat during these hard times that the country is facing.

At Carelli’s, owner Brett Etzler is doing all he can to not only keep his restaurant open, but keep his staff working and busy without people coming through the doors to eat on a consistent basis.

For now, Etzler is limiting staff to four per day – one person working the pizza counter, one working the sandwich counter, one cook, and one delivery driver during the day. That increases to five workers at night as the popular pizzeria adds a second delivery driver to help get food to its guests in a timely fashion.

“We’re just trying to keep them busy and get them as many hours as we can right now,” Etzler said.

When not open, Etzler has one server come in every Monday to do a deep cleaning of the restaurant.

It can be tough to follow the social distancing recommendations from public health in a confined space like a kitchen, but Etzler said he and his staff are doing the best that they can in unprecedented times.

“We’re trying to stay away from each other and wash our hands a bunch,” Etzler said. “We aren’t allowing more than five customers in here at a time either, but that’s not much of a problem because people are doing delivery at this point.”


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