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moving during coronavirus (covid-19) epidemic

Moving During Coronavirus (Covid 19) ?| Are Movers Essential? & What you Need to Know ?

The coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything our generation has ever seen. Not only has the outbreak drastically affected travel and freedom of movement, it’s also affected jobs, lives, and the global economy.

Throughout the chaos and changing guidelines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, life must still go on and some level of normality must be maintained.  That means households still need to move and students still need to relocate as campuses close. Some businesses are even taking advantage of orders to temporarily shut to relocate their offices or storefronts without impacting business. Others like hotels and resorts are taking this time to renovate in anticipation for when customers return after the pandemic. Moving during the coronavirus continues to take place.

Some of the most common questions we are getting during the coronavirus epidemic include

  • Are moving companies essential?
  • Can I move during coronavirus (COVID-19)?
  • Are moving companies open?
  • Is it safe to move during coronavirus?
  • How to move during coronavirus?

If you’re facing the daunting challenge of moving during the coronavirus crisis, rest easy: moving companies are still able to help you as an essential business and they are taking a range of precautions to ensure your move is easy, safe, and virus-free.

Here’s an overview of what you should know about how coronavirus is affecting relocating, what movers are doing during the crisis, and what you can do to make your move safer and easier.

Keep in mind guidelines and state rules are changing rapidly. Please check with official government websites for up-to-date information. (all information herein as of the date of this post)

Also please consider helping those in need by making a donation to Move For Hunger

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What Is an Essential Business? 📢

Let’s start here. It’s confusing, isn’t it? In almost every municipality (federal, state, city or local municipality) guidelines are passed and are memorialized into a “Stay at Home Order” or a “Shelter in Place Order”.  They have been announced in almost every single state, and they all look pretty similar. In fact, about 95% of all Americans fall under a Stay at Home Order. First, they require everyone to stay at home, indoors, except for very specific exceptions.  

They are intended to:

  • Help slow the spread of the virus by limiting people’s contact with each other – Social Distancing
  • Make you stay at home except for specific, and very limited activities, that are essential to keep social distancing in place (ok to go to the grocery store, doctor, care for family, etc)
  • Help flatten the curve of the spread of the virus so hospitals and the entire health care system does not become overwhelmed at once
  • They also indicate an end date, however, as any reader of this understands as of this date, they keep getting extended

These executive orders are very serious and have the force of law. Besides ordering how individuals can, and are, allowed to interact and move within society, they also set rules for all commerce, government entities, and businesses.

Businesses are divided and classified into essential or non-essential within the stay at home orders. Non-essential businesses typically are ones that people visit or frequent for pleasure or social purposes like bars, movie theatres, gyms, restaurants, and even parks.  Essential businesses are deemed necessary for providing services so society can function, including those businesses that “support” essential businesses. This is going to include moving companies, health services, grocery stores, banks, farming, and a list that if you read will make instant common sense to you.  Check out San Francisco’s list.

This can be very confusing as each order has a different meaning and list of essential businesses.  But for us, we are asking specifically about moving companies.

Are Moving Companies 🚚 Essential Services?

Yes. Movers are an essential service. Despite shutdowns among businesses and shelter-in-place orders in many states, many people still need to move. In many cases, moving isn’t an option and can’t be postponed: your lease may be ending, you’re already in the middle of a move, you’re starting a new job, or you’re selling your home or closing on a new home.

While some moving companies have seen a temporary reduction in moving requests, others have seen an uptick in service, depending on the area.

Moving companies are also still operating and hard at work in every state. In all states we could find, movers and moving companies are considered an “essential service” and allowed to continue to operate provided everyone follows social distancing guidelines. No state has currently barred moving companies from operating, even in areas under the strictest guidelines like New York City where vehicles with commercial plates can still move freely. Other heavily impacted cities like San Francisco and Seattle also allow moving companies to operate and for moves to take place.  Moving companies are essential services in California, New York, Michigan, and every other state at this time. This also means that you can move out of state during the pandemic.  

As you look at the Stay at Home Order for your state or area, you may not specifically see “Moving Company” or “Moving Services” listed as essential.  You may very well see things like

  • Transportation company
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Logistics
  • Highway and Motor Carrier
  • Moving services

Since each order is drawn differently they use different words, but if you see any of the above, you can generally assume it includes moving services.  (this can change at any time so please read your areas order)

Once again, when states and cities order the closure of “non-essential businesses,” they may or may not give specific examples of which types of businesses can continue to operate. As a general rule, though, non-essential businesses are those that revolve around social functions and interaction or services of convenience. So, are movers considered essential services? Even when clear guidelines are not provided, moving is generally considered essential.  Moving Companies fall under the “logistics” and “transportation” categories in almost every state.

As an example, in the New York executive order mandating the closure of non-essential businesses, essential businesses include pharmacies, grocery stores, food service (without dine-in service), telecommunication, airports, and transportation infrastructure; services including trash collection, mail, and shipping services; and news media. Whereas in San Francisco’s order it specifically states “Moving services”.

At the federal level, shipping businesses are also considered essential.

The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management said specifically that residents don’t need to cancel moving plans and can move freely but should practice social distancing and self-isolate after arriving in their new home. In the city, delivery, moving, and moving truck rental companies are operating as essential services.

The Health Officer of San Mateo County in California, on the other hand, discourages but does not ban moving. The county says that moving when you have already obtained a new home before the order was issued is considered essential travel.

There is one pressing issue you may have as you prepare for moving during COVID-19: some apartments are canceling move-ins, especially in hard-hit areas like New York City.

Solstice Residential Group which advises the boards of over 80 buildings in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn prohibited all moving into/out of buildings and large deliveries. This included canceling all scheduled moves and banning the delivery of furniture requiring the use of an elevator or more than one trip. Apartment showings have also been canceled.

In its latest guidance to property owners, the National Apartment Association has not recommended canceling apartment move-ins although other precautions have been encouraged. The NAA stated there will likely be fewer move-ins and move-outs, however.

So, in the majority of situations and cities, moving is allowed, continues to happen and moving company services are considered essential services.

One sector of moving has been temporarily shut down until mid-May: military moves.

The Defense Department has halted military moves until at least mid-May by banning domestic travel for personnel and families. Moving companies have been ordered to take no action on the pack-out and pick-up of scheduled moves.

So YES – People are still moving during this Coronavirus pandemic and moving companies are still performing moves.  Moving companies are considered essential services.

Can I Move During Coronavirus – Is it Safe?

So many people are wondering “Can you move during the coronavirus pandemic?” Yes, moving during the COVID-19 epidemic is safe as long as you follow recommended guidelines on social distancing, hand washing, and other practices.

The American Moving & Storage Association has made recommendations for both movers and consumers to make moving during coronavirus as safe as possible.

While moving can be completely safe and essential during the pandemic, the AMSA encourages some consumers to postpone their move if possible. “Your health and the health of your family is important,” the AMSA said in its coronavirus guidelines. “If you are in a vulnerable group, over 60 or have a compromised immune system, schedule your move after the pandemic is over if it is at all possible.”

Keep in mind movers are considered low-risk for the transmission of coronavirus. Moving crews typically only help one or two customers per day and are able to maintain social distancing during the move.

By the way, if you are looking for ways to stay sane and active WHILE social distancing, check out the free guide, we know you will love it!

Are Moving Companies Open? 🎯

Yes! Movers are open during the coronavirus epidemic.  Movers are NOT CLOSED! Moving companies are taking a number of steps to mitigate the risk of contracting and/or spreading coronavirus during a move, including some steps recommended by AMSA.  Always ask your mover what steps they are taking to reduce the risk and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Most moving companies are open and here is a list of some measures professional moving companies are taking to manage the coronavirus risk which includes:

  • Greeting customers with alternatives to handshakes
  • Providing virtual estimates rather than in-person moving estimates
  • Practicing good hygiene with frequent hand washing
  • Movers using gloves, face masks, and hand sanitizer during moves
  • Constantly cleaning surfaces, equipment, the truck and the interior of the truck cab
  • Social distancing or maintaining at least 6 feet of space from customers

All professional movers by now have a COVID-19 policy in place you can read and you will want to make yourself comfortable with their protocols and procedures. 

Besides listing COVID-19 policies, some moving companies have prepared COVID-19 videos to update and ensure the public of their protocols.  Mentors Moving & Storage and Wirks Moving are 2 excellent examples.  

Here’s a more in-depth look at some of the ways movers are keeping you safe during your relocation.

Virtual Video Surveys

One of the most crucial steps movers are taking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 is replacing traditional on-site moving surveys with virtual video surveys.

Movers don’t need to come to your home to assess your moving and storage needs. With video technology, face-to-face time can be eliminated while still ensuring you receive an accurate moving estimate.

Expanded In-House Sanitation

Many moving companies are increasing sanitation and housekeeping for offices and warehouses. This includes frequent disinfecting of keypads, restrooms, countertops, and door handles. Non-essential visitors are also eliminated.

Pre-Move Wellness Checks for Customers & Movers

Ahead of your move, AMSA encourages you to contact your moving company to explain if you or anyone in your home has or may have contracted coronavirus or are isolating due to exposure. Depending on the circumstances and movers, they may be able to work with you or postpone your move to mitigate the risk for team members and other customers.

Your moving company may contact you ahead of your move to ask if you feel ill or have had suspected contact with someone infected with coronavirus.

Many moving companies have also taken steps to perform wellness checks on team members. Movers and staff who feel ill or suspect they have had contact with someone who is infected are instructed not to come to work.

Social Distancing

One of the most crucial steps a moving company can take is implementing social distancing protocols. After arriving at a customer’s location, team members will maintain a 6-foot social distance and avoid touching or handshaking.

Changes to Staff Scheduling

In an effort to reduce large gatherings in office settings, moving companies are reducing risk by staggering shift start times among team members. Crews are also assisted with heading out to their designated move with supplies such as gloves and handwashing supplies as quickly as possible.

Moving Companies Are Open

Moving companies are open in California.  Moving companies are open in New York, Michigan and every other state in the Country.  Of course, check with the individual company you wish to move with.

How to Move During Coronavirus 🗺️

Even before your move is scheduled, you may be dealing with finding a new home.  That may be a rental or purchase. Things have changed drastically as a result of this pandemic.  How are you supposed to view and select your new home if you are practicing social distancing and can’t visit the prospective place? 

Also, almost everyone is reluctant to allow strangers into their existing home, even if they are a potential buyer or tenant. With many Stay at Home Orders, you aren’t even allowed to view a new place. So all of this gets quite tricky.  In Los Angeles, any showings are by appointment and only in homes that are vacant. Then beyond that, only up to two people are allowed to tour. 

This is not optimal and is leading to much more reliance on virtual tours, and other technologies.  If you’re still trying to decide on which home to purchase, consider using a live video home tour app like HomeRover as it allows you to remotely tour homes via live video – with the agent or seller performing a personalized walkthrough of the property for you. It’s the next best thing to actually being in the home (and it abides by proper guidelines on social distancing since the agent can do this solo on your behalf).  The use of video and virtual technology makes all moving during the pandemic easier and especially for moving out of state (cross country).

Now that you have hopefully found your new place, you will want to make moving during COVID-19 as smooth and easy as possible. There are many steps you can take to get your home ready for the movers, maintain safe distance, and mitigate the risk of coronavirus. Moving during this pandemic can be done and is being done every day.  In fact, it is getting easier and easier as people become more comfortable with the new restrictions and moving companies continue to follow safe practices.

Moving companies and AMSA recommend consumers take the following steps so you can learn how to move during the coronavirus pandemic.

Provide Hand Washing and Disinfection Supplies for Movers

If possible, leave out hygiene products your movers can use to follow safe hand washing practices. You can leave paper towels and soap by your sink and hand sanitizer and bleach wipes by the entrance.

Use New Cardboard Boxes

You might be wondering how long can the coronavirus survive on surfaces, like cardboard boxes. To be on the safe side, only use new cardboard boxes from your moving company, purchased at the store or boxes you already have at home. Avoid using recycled moving boxes because coronavirus lives on surfaces like cardboard for up to 24 hours.

Plan Your Travel

How will you be traveling to your new home? Ahead of moving day, take care to make sure your travel plans are as safe as possible and can be adjusted if needed. If you need a hotel or flight, book refundable reservations and make sure the cancellation policy will protect you if plans change.

Practice Safe Hygiene Measures

Wash your hands frequently while moving, even if you aren’t loading boxes. Avoid touching your mouth and face. While interacting with movers, you can also wear gloves and a face mask for additional protection; your movers should also be wearing gloves.

Sanitize Belongings

As best as you are able, keep your belongings sanitized and free of germs by sealing items in bags and boxes. Wrap your furniture in plastic that can be thrown away as soon as you are in your new home. Wear gloves when you unpack and wash your hands frequently. Try to limit outside exposure to your items in transit.

Practice Social Distancing

Your movers will be friendly but maintain a safe distance during the coronavirus epidemic. Take care to also practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from the moving crew.

Be Prepared for the Movers

When the moving team arrives, it’s helpful to leave open doorways and windows in your home to improve indoor ventilation. Increasing the ventilation rate is believed to reduce cross-infection of airborne infectious disease by diluting or removing contaminated airborne droplets.

How You Can Help While Moving During the Coronavirus Epidemic

You probably have a lot of free time on your hands ahead of moving during these difficult times. As you pack up your home, consider donating shelf-stable food items to Move For Hunger to reduce your load during your move and help those in need. In fact people need your help more than ever.

Move For Hunger has a network of relocation companies that help customers donate food when they move. You can set aside shelf-stable, unopened food items and the crew will ensure it’s packed and delivered to a local food pantry.

The COVID-19 epidemic has caused widespread disruption and fear, but life must still go on. Throughout the epidemic, people are still moving and movers are still helping to ease the transition and mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus while moving to a new state or home. You can still safely move during the epidemic as long as you follow recommended guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.

Resources for Moving During the Coronavirus Epidemic

COVID-19 (coronavirus) Moving Restrictions by Country

███ Services not available
███ Severe restrictions
███ Some restrictions
███ No restrictions
███ No data available

Now moving & relocation across the entire globe is affected due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Simply click on any of the countries to get detailed information.

Thank you to our good friends at Keller Swiss for putting together this amazing map of moving & relocation restrictions across the globe, related to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) epidemic.  They are continuously updating this map.

Help Others – Donate to Move For Hunger

Help others while moving during the Coronavirus pandemic by donating shelf-stable food. Move For Hunger is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and relies on donations to support its food rescue programs. Also, ff you are able, please consider making a donation to help Move For  Hunger provide much-needed meals to families, children, seniors, and vulnerable communities nationwide.


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