Despite an exception by the governor that his auto repair and tire business could remain open, Keith Messer decided to temporarily close out of concern for the novel coronavirus.
Morehead Tire & Auto on Bradley Avenue has been closed since Monday, March 23. It will stay closed for three weeks with the possibility of leaving the bays shut even longer.
“If it’s settled to the point I feel comfortable opening back up, I will reopen Monday, April 13. If I am not comfortable and the situation has not improved a significant amount, I will take off another three weeks,” Messer said.
Even though all vehicles that came in were disinfected, Messer and his staff still had concerns about contracting the virus.
No one was sick before the closure but staff were in and out of each vehicle two to three times.
“No matter how many times you disinfect, you can’t say for sure it’s clean,” Messer said.
“I don’t want an employee or customer to develop health issues and possibly die because of a job. It’s just money, and money is not worth that to my conscience.”
Messer had already cut out test drives and the staff was diagnosing problems based on the customer’s explanation of where the problem was and what the vehicle was doing.
Wearing gloves, employees sprayed disinfectant inside the vehicle, wiped the interior, exterior door handles, steering wheel and shifter, sprayed the inside again with disinfectant and let the vehicle sit 15 to 20 minutes if possible. Then it was pulled into the bay.
In Kentucky, there have been at least four deaths related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
At least 124 people in the state have tested positive. As of press time on Tuesday, no one in Rowan County had been infected.
Business doors have been shuttered as Gov. Andy Beshear announced even more closures – the latest nonessential retailers.
The number of employees out of work keeps growing, but officials are optimistic there will be a turnaround.
Messer is preparing for the worst.
“If I shut down three or six weeks, it will hurt financially. If it continues, I may have to shut down indefinitely,” he said.