No matter how badly you want to get out of your current apartment, the move itself is rarely fun. From the logistics and packing to the actual heavy lifting and truck driving, it's stressful to change apartments in the best of times. But if you're moving during COVID, you'll have a unique set of challenges.
If you can avoid a change of home right now, you might want to stay put to avoid extra complications (and save some money while you're at it). But, as Dr. Mike Hilton, M.D., the associate medical director of Sollis Health tells Bustle, if you've got to go, you've got to go. "Life has to go on, even during a pandemic. The key thing is to live in as safe a manner as possible, and mitigate risk."
Generally speaking, moving is considered essential, so most moving services (including movers themselves, storage spaces, and truck rentals) are open for business. The more people you involve in your move, though, the higher the infection risk. So make sure you're keeping your movers (or very excellent friends) and your family safe with these precautions for moving during the pandemic.
Hiring Movers During COVID-19
If you decide to hire a moving service to wrestle your mattress into your new place, there are a few extra questions you need to ask before choosing a company to work with. You'll want to know about the moving company's staff safety protocols beyond a pledge that they'll respect social distancing. Now is the time to get specific, says Dr. Adonis Saremi, M.D., a physician with virtual health platform PlushCare.
"Are their workers being screened for symptoms of COVID such as fever, chills, cough, trouble breathing, runny nose, sore throat, and diarrhea? Are workers who are ill instructed to stay home and seek medical attention for further recommendations such as COVID testing? Are the workers educated about proper social distancing measures and are they required to wear a mask?" You want to get clear and confident "yes" answers all across the board, he says.
Having Friends Help With Your COVID Move
If professional movers are out of your price range or comfort level, you might want to recruit a friend or two. But even though they're clearly good pals if they're willing to sweat out a move with you, it's safest to hold them to the same safety standards you would for hired movers.
"Ask your friend about any recent symptoms of COVID," Dr. Saremi advises. It might seem awkward because they're your friends, but Dr. Saremi says that safety is key. "Also ask them if they have recently traveled or been exposed to any ill contacts. If so, it’s probably not a good idea to recruit their help. If not, ensure that they practice social distancing and wear a face covering if they are going to help with the move." Of course, they'll also have to wash their hands and wipe down all the surfaces they touch along the way.
If you're going to provide them with the traditional pizza in exchange for their display of unsurpassed friendship, you might want to order it to their apartment after they get home to minimize the time spent together in enclosed spaces.
Packing For A Pandemic Move Safely
Cleaning as you pack can provide an extra layer of safety and save you a lot of future hassle. Use moving as an excuse to disinfect the surfaces you've probably been slacking on, like the base of your desk lamp and the sides of your night stand.
Being extra diligent is a good move, especially when folks you aren't quarantining with will be coming in and out of your space. But, as The Atlantic reports, research shows that surface transmission of COVID is much less likely than previously thought. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus doesn't primarily spread through touching frequently used surfaces as much as being in close contact with other infected people. Still, the CDC says that touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after handling an object with the virus on it may spread the infection (even though it's not super likely).
On moving day, you're extra likely to be touching your eyes to wipe sweat away, so there's no harm in being a little extra diligent. "Consider letting the boxes sit for 24 hours, or you need to make sure you (and whoever else touches the boxes) washes their hands right after touching the boxes, or you can wipe down the boxes with disinfectant wipes," Dr. Hilton suggests. It can be easy to forget to wash your hands or use sanitizer between each round of boxes (and even harder to avoid wiping sweat away from your eyes), so for the safety of your movers or friends, packing up as early as you can might be your best bet.
How To Stay Safe From Coronavirus On The Day Of The Move
Make sure you have hand sanitizer available for your movers or friends to use. Keep soap and paper towels in your bathroom until the last minute, too, and make sure they're available right away when you get to your new place.
And, no matter how tight you are with the friend who's helping you move, Dr. Hilton says everyone involves needs to keep their mask on at all times. You also want to keep all the windows open to allow for as much ventilation as possible — increased ventilation helps reduce the concentration of airborne viruses like COVID. If you're lucky enough to have an elevator, Dr. Hilton suggests asking your building to block it off for your use during the move.
As with pretty much everything during COVID, be prepared with your disinfectant wipes. You'll want to wipe down everything from your moving boxes and furniture to the handles, seats, and steering wheel of your U-haul.
Once you're in your new apartment, make sure you're continuing to wash your hands and give your furniture and home a fresh wipe-down. Just to be extra diligent, let your cardboard boxes sit for 24 hours if you can. If you're itching to unpack, you might choose to wipe down the boxes before handling them. Once all that's done, you can settle into your new home.
Dr. Mike Hilton, M.D., associate medical director, Sollis Health
Dr. Adonis Saremi, M.D., physician, PlushCare