On May 13, exactly 14 months or 426 days after the U.S declared a national emergency due to COVID-19, the CDC announced that fully-vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances. Following the announcement, New Jersey has ripped off its collective mask and retailers have updated their mandates. But where do U.S. auto glass shops stand in the pandemic’s aftermath?
The 426 days between the U.S.’s national emergency declaration and the CDC-led unmasking have slammed each state’s slew of auto glass shops with varying blows. Jon Laski, CEO of City Auto Glass, which serves Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, among others, said operating during the age of COVID-19 was no easy feat.
“Because of the varying footprints of our stores, we did have to make some layout changes to our reception areas and in some cases our working areas also,” Laski said. “Similar to everywhere else in the country, during the early stages of the pandemic, miles driven in Minnesota were down drastically; stalling the business. We were just getting Florida up and running when the pandemic started so we definitely had a different set of challenges down south. We also had to develop new marketing strategies to overcome the obstacles our sales team faced in not being able to make face-to-face calls.”
Laski said that, while the situation is fluid, some normalcy has returned to his business.
“As more of our customer base receive the vaccine and some of the stringent restrictions on businesses have been lifted, we have definitely seen the business come roaring back in Minnesota and in our Florida operations,” Laski said. “Our sales team is able to resume some face-to-face calls, and our customers feel much more comfortable coming to our shops again. As a company, we’ve not yet lifted most of our guidelines around distancing and wearing masks in order to keep our employees and our customers safe.”
For Michael Franklin, administrative director of AmeriPro Auto Glass LLC, Jacksonville, Fla., COVID-19 was business as usual.
“Florida was opened very early last year,” Franklin said. “We never closed because automotive was considered an essential service. …There really hasn’t been anything that affected our day-to-day operations other than about a six to eight week slowdown at the beginning around March or April 2020. We picked back up shortly thereafter and have been straight and steady since.”
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, so do the protocols and guidelines designed around it. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) has altered vaccine guidance, which previously said employers should record all adverse reactions to required vaccinations. The agency’s updated FAQ page on adverse reactions now says the following:
“DOL and OSHA, as well as other federal agencies, are working diligently to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination through May 2022. We will reevaluate the agency’s position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward.”
For more information, visit the agency’s website.