Maintaining Social Distancing While Moving

What Is Social Distancing?
Social distancing, sometimes referred to as physical distancing, refers to regulations set by federal and state governments to keep people apart as a means to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In most cases, proper social distancing requires at least six feet of space between you and someone who is not a member of your direct household—about two arms’ length.

COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets, which are emitted when a person sneezes, coughs, sings, or talks. By social distancing while moving and following other safety procedures like wearing a face mask, you reduce your chance of coming into contact with these droplets. This is why it’s important to limit your interactions with others until the virus is under control, and why you will need to heavily factor social distancing into your move.

How To Practice Social Distancing While Moving
As you might have already learned from a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy, it’s not always possible to keep at least six feet of space between yourself and others. Unfortunately, in some cases that will extend to your move as well.

Because moving is an activity that often requires more than one person, if you don’t have others in your household who are able to help out then it’s almost inevitable you will have to work in semi-close contact with someone else to load and unload the moving truck. A good alternative option is to hire a moving company, since your boxes can be lifted and loaded without your assistance.

No matter what your moving situation is, it’s crucial that you maintain social distancing as much as possible. Below, we’ll cover best practices for doing so across a variety of different moving scenarios.

If you’re moving yourself…
A DIY move is a good choice during the coronavirus pandemic. So long as you have additional members of your household who can assist, moving yourself means that you can be efficient in your move and won’t have to worry as much about keeping a safe distance between yourself and others.

To practice social distancing while moving when you’re doing it yourself, make sure to limit trips to the store to purchase boxes and moving supplies. A good way to do this is to use our packing calculator, which can give you an estimate of what you’ll need in terms of supplies so you only need to head out once. Order your supplies at the store of your choice ahead of time and arrange for delivery or curbside pick-up, which will prevent you from having to go inside.

If you’re using a moving company…
Moving is an essential business, which means that moving companies continue to operate throughout the country. To protect their employees and their customers, movers have taken important steps to limit contact throughout the moving process, including providing virtual quotes instead of in-person quotes.

The most practical thing to do to maintain social distancing when using movers is to isolate yourself in another area inside or outside of the home while they do their work. Have all of your boxes packed, sealed, and ready to go prior to the arrival or your movers, and coordinate from a distance and/or over the phone as needed. If you need to sign any paperwork, wear a mask, use your own pen, and wash your hands thoroughly right away after you’re done.

If you’re renting a moving truck…
Like moving companies, most truck rental providers are open for business during the pandemic and have modified their services to incorporate social distancing measures. Enterprise, for example, requires that all rental truck reservations be made over the phone or online, and is using vehicle pick-up and drop-off points that differ from their branch locations. Call or look at the website of your preferred rental provider to see what their specific social distancing policies are.

Wipe your truck down thoroughly with disinfectant upon pick up and when you drop it off. While rental truck companies are also sanitizing the trucks, this ensures that you’re as careful as possible. Pay close attention to door handles, the steering wheel, joystick, and seat belt, as well as the buttons on the dashboard.

If you’re using a storage facility…
Storage facilities remain open but most have reduced their on-site staff and put limits into place on how many people are able to access their units at one time. They are also enforcing the requisite six or more feet of space between customer and customer and customer and employee.

For the highest degree of social distancing, opt for a unit with drive-up access, since the only time you’ll have to get out of your car will be to load your items.

Other Tips for Safe Moving During COVID-19
Life may be on pause in a lot of ways right now, but if you have a move coming up then you’re going to need to take any and all steps that you can to ensure the process is safe and efficient—and that extends even beyond social distancing.

While you’re maintaining at least six feet between yourself and others, follow these other precautionary measures as well to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 and keep yourself and others safe.

If you’re high risk, sick, or have been exposed to someone with the virus, isolate completely. Even with social distancing the risks of moving for yourself and others are too high if you are in one of the groups above. You’ll need to isolate completely, which, if you can’t change the date of your move, may require hiring full service movers to pack, transport, and unpack your belongings while you remain in a separate space.

Practice good hygiene. All of the heightened hygiene measures during the pandemic go double during a move. That means wearing a tight fitting mask and leaving it on throughout your entire move, frequently washing your hands in 20 second intervals, and sanitizing surfaces as needed.

Skip the free moving supplies. Now is not the time to be contacting your local grocery store for free cardboard boxes. Only use moving supplies that you already have in your home and/or that you buy brand new from the store.

The coronavirus pandemic won’t go on forever; but while it’s here, it’s critical that you follow protocols for reducing the spread. Social distancing is a cornerstone of these policies—and it’s working. Always keep the safety of yourself and others top of mind while planning your move during COVID-19, and when in doubt, err on the side of doing too much instead of too little. It might require lots of work and planning, but on the bright side, at least your next move will seem a whole lot easier.