It’s garage sale season, and the long arms of COVID-19 restrictions touch even that popular summer pastime.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, garage sales fall within coronavirus guidelines for retail sales in the state. Posted on the ODH website, the rules dictate that those holding a garage sale must adhere to the following rules:
• Signage encouraging social distancing must be prominently placed for visibility among shoppers.
• Tables must be placed six feet apart from each other.
• Tape should be placed among the tables to form a flow for customers.
• When a garage sale becomes busy, shoppers must be asked to stand in a line while spread apart.
• Tables, merchandise, and other high-touch areas must be sanitized several times during the day.
• Masks and disposable gloves must always be worn during the garage sale.
• Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol must always be available for shoppers to use.
Pat Wiemken, Fulton County Health Department environmental health director, said because garage sales are categorized by the state as retail sales they must follow the same COVID-19 criteria as stores. She said the county’s health department follows the orders and guidelines issued by the state health department, and has responded to numerous questions about local garage sales.
Wauseon Public Service Director Keith Torbet said the city does not regulate garage sales, only signage for them. He said there are no restrictions on garage sales and no suggestions by city officials to not have them.
“We’re not taking an opinion on it one way or another…If you’re that worried, don’t go,” he said.
Torbet said each time the city has made a COVID-19 related suggestion or tried to take action, “either the governor’s office or the department of health has gone the opposite direction…We’ve talked about it but it really isn’t any concern. They’re allowing farmers’ markets and I don’t see any difference between a garage sale and a farmers’ market.”
As for the city shutting down garage sales because they’re suspected of spreading coronavirus, Torbet said that would be impossible to prove.
“There’s no way to pinpoint where you’ve got it at. Best way to do is, use common sense. Do the things that they’re telling you to do,” he said. “At some point in time, people have to take care of themselves and use common sense.”
Swanton Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle said the village is taking a neutral stance regarding garage sales.
“There is no active encouragement or discouragement,” she said. “All complaints received on any COVID-19 related situations are forwarded to the Fulton County or Lucas County Health Commissioner.”
Delta was scheduled to hold a community garage sale on Saturday, and signs had popped up all over the village. “The state’s saying that they’re okay with it…so we’re assuming the village citizens will take heed with the precautionary measures,” Mayor Bob Gilbert said.
He said the village community seems aware and conscious of the need for social distancing at garage sales this summer, and “we’re fortunate that Fulton County is not a hotbed for the spread of the virus. I don’t expect they’ll have any trouble.”
Gilbert said all those attending and selling are encouraged to wear a mask. But he admitted the greatest concern is a multitude of people repeatedly handling sale items.
“That’s where, hopefully, people will be smart enough to use hand sanitizer after they’ve visited a garage sale,” he said. “I hope people putting on the garage sales are cautious. We’re relying on common sense.”
Village administrators haven’t heard a single complaint about holding garage sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, but if they do they’ll refer the complainant to the county health department.
“We’re siding on being cautious,” Gilbert said.
Archbold Village Administrator Donna Dettling said the village is, in fact, advising residents to not have garage sales due to the coronavirus.
“We strongly discourage them, generally for the whole summer, (but) we can’t tell people they can’t do it,” she said.
Garage sales have been green-lighted by the state, and the village has no jurisdiction to ban them, Dettling said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.