- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2020

BISHOP, Ga. (AP) - Spring had arrived and Bishop resident Carolyn Pritchett had work around her house she wanted done, including trimming the trees, painting the house and installing a new air conditioning system.

Yet, the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing was making many people apprehensive about having strangers come to their homes.

The pandemic, she said, caused her to be anxious “maybe a little,” but at the same time she didn’t want the work delayed. She decided to have it done.

“I felt there’s got to be a time when you have to trust people and trust God,” she said. “You can take precautions. You don’t want to be shoulder-to-shoulder with somebody. We all knew to stay away and wear the face masks.”

At separate times, workers came to the home to do the painting, trim the trees and put in an AC unit.



“I don’t want people to be afraid. Be aware and sensible but don’t be afraid to hire them,” said Pritchett, who noted that when the air conditioning workers arrived, all 12 employees were wearing masks.

“I trusted them that they won’t come out if they are sick,” she said.

These days of the pandemic are something to which service businesses in Athens area are all making adjustments.

“This is unprecedented and we’re all kind of making the rules as we go,” said Rex Coker, the owner of Stanfield Air Systems, who like other home service companies had to set procedures in place to make customers feel comfortable.

“We implemented (procedures) on March 17 when we realized this was going to be as big an issue that it was,” Coker said.

These guidelines included wearing masks and gloves and even putting booties over shoes if their work necessitated going inside a home, he said.

“We had some customers who simply did not want us in their home, which was understandable,” he said.

Sam Ivey, owner of Plumber Pro Service, said his team quickly put safety strategies into place, but initially “one of the toughest things was finding personal protective equipment.”

But they found masks and gloves and began sanitizing their vehicles, he said.

Work hit a lull for about three weeks in April to early May, but he said calls for service have picked up in recent days.

“We’ve been as busy as ever at this point and that’s been good,” he said.

“For a lot of home service businesses, you would think things would be slower, but because a lot of people have been sheltering in place and staying at home the plumbing is used more and there are more opportunities to see things like electrical issues,” he said.

“A lot more people are realizing what needs to be done at home. Now they want them fixed,” he said.

When the pandemic began, Ivey said residents were somewhat nervous about people coming into their homes, but that fear now appears to be subsiding for the most part.

But Ivey also wonders what a lot of closed businesses will find when they restart operations.

“A lot of them have had their buildings and systems lying dormant so that could cause some problems when trying to get back up and running,” he predicted.

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