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Dealers are open for business during the coronavirus pandemic, but they are implementing new safety measures to protect their customers, employees, and partners.

For starters, they are required to comply with the CDC rules during the COVID-19 crisis. Maintain a distance of 6 feet between persons; ensure employees practice appropriate hygiene measures, including regular, thorough handwashing; ensure that employees who are sick remain home; and regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

“They are taking that very, very seriously,” said Rita Ferris, president of the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association. “Not only are they complying, in some cases, they are going above and beyond. One of my members in Central New York…built a plexiglass shield around the cash register area, so his employees wouldn’t have any risk in that regard.”

Naturally, this dealer is an anomaly. Most dealers, Ferris said, are practicing social distancing by limiting physical interactions with customers as much as possible. They are encouraging customers to call ahead and place their orders by credit card, so they can deliver the products to customers curbside or load the customers’ trucks for them.

ABC Supply posted a customer letter on its website, sharing the company’s new customer engagement policy in response to the coronavirus epidemic. An excerpt of the letter is below:

In our effort to adapt to the challenges of operating safely in the Covid-19 environment, we have decided that beginning this week we are restricting access to ABC branches to ABC personnel only. We will continue to operate in most of our branches, but we will be taking all orders over the phone, via fax, text, email or other electronic means, and then working with you in our yards and parking lots.

Delivery service will continue as normal in most areas of the country. If you are in a jurisdiction where this is not possible, we will communicate locally on how we'll proceed and we'll work with you in monitoring government communications. And please understand that we are asking our associates to practice social distancing on your jobsites as well.

Also, in response to the coronavirus crisis, Hammond Lumber Company’s president and CEO Mike Hammond published a customer letter on his company’s website, promoting its free delivery and curbside pickup service. The letter states "the temporary practices listed below are being enacted."

Curbside Pickup for In-Store Items:

Place your order over the phone, email or text, and it will be fulfilled as requested.
For building materials located outside, the normal yard order fulfillment process will continue.

Call the store or your salesperson to notify them of your arrival. Your order will be brought out to your vehicle.

Payments can be made over the phone or your Hammond charge account can be used.

Drivers have also been given special instructions:

Our drivers have been instructed to have zero physical contact with customers. Materials will be placed in an accessible area while maintaining a minimum of 6 feet of separation.

Our drivers will not obtain physical signatures; they will record the first and last name of the person accepting delivery along with the date, time and any exceptions. Your copy of the receipt will be left with your materials.

When setting your order up for delivery, our salespeople and shippers can work with you to coordinate the best place for your product to be dropped off.

We will continue to deliver to jobsites in the Rough Construction Phase. However, our drivers and salespeople will not be entering any finished homes in the Owner Occupancy Phase.

Many of these social distancing initiatives have already been put into practice by dealers in the Northeast, according to Ferris. "The vast majority of them are working that way now," she said.

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