An essential business, Salisbury auto repair shops take precautions during COVID-19 outbreak
By Liz Moomey
SALISBURY — Auto repair shops have generally been considered an essential business during the COVID-19 outbreak, and they’re taking some precautions to ensure the safety of employees and customers as business rolls on.
Mark Kraus, the owner of Integrity Auto Repair, made some changes to his business on Tuesday that included disinfecting cars when they come into the auto shop for repairs and before they are handed back to the customers. The employees will disinfect the exterior and interior door handles, the gear shifter, steering wheel and keys, Kraus said.
While he’s staying in business, he said the lobby will be closed and customers could put their keys on the table outside the shop or in an after hours drop box. Payments can be made over the phone. And customers with an extra set of keys can have them placed in their car.
Kraus’s daughters Tabitha and Abigail also were hard at work Tuesday, making face masks for Integrity Auto Repair employees, their families and anyone who was interested. They can call 704-431-4004 to arrange to pick a face mask up, Kraus said.
He has been following practices by other auto repair business owners during the COVID-19 outbreak through a Facebook group he is in.
“It’s good to be ahead of the curve,” Kraus said.
Kraus said his business hasn’t changed its hours, but he has seen business start to slow.
Grease Monkey announced on their Facebook Sunday that they would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday but plan to be open as usual during other days while doubling down on cleanliness.
“These changes will be week-to-week as the instructions of our governments progress,” the business said. “Thank you all for your loyalty to us and your patience and understanding during this difficult time.”
Meanwhile, Lemly’s Automotive and Custom Exhaust opened their new location on Monday at 1823 South Main St. in Salisbury. And Owner Daniel Lemly said he is taking things one day at a time.
“It’s concerning what could happen,” he said. “Nobody knows the outcome.”
Lemly said his heart goes out to those who have been economically affected, like those in the restaurant industry, he said.
He is mostly concerned about the impact “down the road.” Lemly said he’s encouraging customers to drop off their keys and to call ahead to limit how many are in the lobby. Employees are also taking extra precautions to wipe down the shop.
Kyle Rabon, owner of Auto Works of Salisbury at 429 S. Main St., said he and the business’ employees have slowed down and thought about cleanliness more seriously — from the counters of the shop to the pens used by customers. Employees are now constantly wearing gloves and the number of customers in the lobby is limited to one or two if it’s a family member.
“We’re taking all the precautions and trying to touch as little things as possible,” Rabon said.
Rabon said Auto Works is not as busy as usual but the shop is busy enough.
For cleaning the interior of a car, Rabon said it doesn’t hurt to take a Lysol wipe to disinfect most touched areas like the handles, steering wheel and gear shift during the outbreak.
Some N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles driver license offices have closed for the health and safety of their customers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, which stared on March 18. That includes Salisbury Driver License Office, at 5780 S. Main St., which is closed.
The License Plate Agency at the East Kerr Center remains open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They only are offering plate and vehicle registration services. And the center is limiting 10 customers inside at one time.
According to the NCDMV website, License renewals, vehicle registrations, duplicate license/ID cards, renew vehicle registration and pay property taxes and order personalized/specialized license plates can be done online. For more information, visit ncdot.gov/dmv/offices-services/online/Pages/default.aspx.