Businesses make changes in their operations to limit the spread of COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused many businesses and offices to implement new procedures to keep employees and customers safe.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, businesses have had to rework procedures to keep people safe while also being able to remain open.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lot of these businesses are what they consider essential.This includes workers who are necessary in continuing essential functions, despite a possible exposure to COVID-19.

MU senior Olivia Chambliss is currently working at the Target in Columbia, a business considered essential during this time.

“Whenever it first started, they started recommending that we stay 6 feet away, it was all more recommended than ‘You have to do this,’” Chambliss said.

As COVID-19 escalated, Chambliss said Target started putting tape on the floor to keep customers six feet apart and regulated how many people were allowed in the store.

“The only way they’re keeping track of that is somebody counting so it’s like, is that even really reliable,” she said.

Chambliss is currently working in Target’s pick-up and delivery where customers can order what they want online and pick up their groceries without having to go inside. She said there’s usually 50 orders or less an hour but now it’s jumped to 100 to 200, sometimes 300 orders, an hour.

According to Chambliss, Target employees are receiving benefits for working during this time. They’re paying two dollars extra an hour and giving paid time off for people who are unable to work because they have a compromised immune system or are at an age that is higher risk.

Along with larger chains remaining available to people, many local businesses have also changed their operations to remain open. One local business undergoing change is Le Bao Asian Eatery in Columbia. MU senior Jess Martin currently works there and packages food for takeout.

“We are a small, local business and completely shutting down and not having any revenue would be really hard to keep the place open after all this is over,” Martin said. “We’re taking all the safety precautions that we can but still keep the place running.”

While many workers are operating in person, other workers who can afford to work remotely have done so.

For numerous MU offices, this is the case. MU Junior Zoe Rich is currently working remotely for the MU Honors College.

“They’ll send us some other tasks just to do while we’re at home, that they need done,” Rich said. “The Honors College is trying very hard to keep students on staff because they know it’s our primary source of income.”

She said a big change is not being able to interact with people as much. “It’s really difficult doing the work and emailing back and forth but being like, ‘Oh, I don’t get to show you this funny meme I found,’” she said.

Second-year MU student Emma Bennett is also working remotely by phone banking for her county executive, Sam Page.

“We call [people] and ask if they need any information about the coronavirus and if they need any resources,” Bennett said. “It’s technically a campaign call, just because there is an election coming up in the fall, but we really emphasize getting their feedback about how the county’s doing to respond to the virus and then asking them if they need anything from us.”

Bennett said that while she is not as essential as people who are not able to work from home, she said they are still vital because they are giving out crucial information to people who might not otherwise have access to it.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. They recently created a list of workers who they believe are necessary in continuing essential operations. Its purpose is to assist local and state governments when deciding what businesses should stay open in their communities.

For more information, visit the “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” here.

Edited by Ben Scott | bscott@themaneater.com

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