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How are people managing yard sales in the age of social distancing?

Erika Beras May 25, 2020
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States are setting guidelines for safe garage and yard sales to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images
COVID-19

How are people managing yard sales in the age of social distancing?

Erika Beras May 25, 2020
Heard on:
States are setting guidelines for safe garage and yard sales to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images
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Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, and along with all of the pastimes of summer are garage, yard and stoop sales. But how will those sales look in the age of social distancing?

For Renee Translateur, a Pittsburgh resident, pretty much every summer weekend is spent scouring yard sales for toys and figurines. But this year? 

“Because of the COVID-19, I think that yard sales are a little bit too close for comfort,” Translateur said. “There’s always going to be other people there, and I don’t feel comfortable handling items that other people are handling.” 

As states reopen, health departments are coming up with guidelines for yard sales to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In Vermont, no more than ten people should be at a sale. In Ohio, the merchandise must be washed and dried or wiped down with a disinfectant, hand sanitizer has to be available and tables and chairs should be set six feet apart. 

Kat Holmes, who lives outside Cleveland, had a three day yard sale that ended Saturday. She wore a mask and gloves and put arrows on the ground to guide people.

“It actually worked out where when we snaked people around, they started in and they exited out at the last row,” Holmes said.

And Holmes said she profitted around $500.

Donna Tauber, who lives in Indiana, helps organize the National Historic Road Yard Sale where hundreds of vendors along Route 40 — known as the Main Street of America — sell from Baltimore to St. Louis. Because unemployment is so high, “we know that people are going to want to make some extra fast cash by having a sale, so there may be more sales,” Tauber said.

The event is usually held this week, but it’s been postponed. Organizers may try to hold it in August. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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