One of Owensboro’s longtime businesses, Packages Plus, has decided to close its doors for the safety of its customers and employees. Owner Pat Osborne said this closure will take place Tuesday and will last for an undetermined amount of time.
Packages Plus is exempt from the list of non-essential businesses directed to close during the COVID-19 spread by Gov. Andy Beshear, but Osborne said the decision to close came down to safety and health concerns.
“Mail and parcel centers were deemed to be essential, so we tried to wait on people through our drive-thru only,” Osborne said. “We started doing that last Thursday.”
Osborne became concerned about handling packages from the drive-thru after he heard a customer coughing while on the phone with her doctor, explaining her symptoms of fever and cough through the phone. Those at Packages Plus were in the middle of getting her package ready to ship.
“We disinfected the package immediately,” he said. “I’m 61 with an autoimmune disease, and I don’t want to risk my staff’s health and my customers’ health. The COVID-19 virus is very active on cardboard. I don’t want to be the epicenter [for a local surge in cases]. We’re busier than we’ve ever been right now.”
With the number of cases increasing exponentially, Osborne believes this pandemic won’t get better until people start staying home and realize the severity of the novel coronavirus and subsequent COVID-19 illness.
“I feel like we’re enabling folks [by staying open],” he said. “I’m choosing to go home and leave lots of money on the table. But this isn’t about the money. The social distancing recommendations are being violated on every transaction that takes place here.”
Osborne has served many of the same customers for years and said he didn’t want to look at someone’s face later and wish he’d taken different action.
“We’ll wait it out as long as it takes. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses that had to close don’t have that luxury, but we can [close temporarily],” he said. “It’s by our own choice. We love our customers and treat them like family.”
Osborne said he realizes Packages Plus is an important link for many people, and that his customers can’t get the same service elsewhere, including drive-thru accessibility, low prices and options for their packages. Though customers can use the United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx instead, a few of Osborne’s customers have gotten upset with Packages Plus for closing up shop during this time.
“A few of our customers really, really, really rely on us — they aren’t from the digital age,” Osborne said. “My advice has been, ‘Don’t order anything you don’t need, because if you need it, you probably won’t be sending it back. The faster we get past this, the faster we can open back up again.”
The Owensboro Health coronavirus hotline is available 24/7 by calling 877-888-6647. Call the hotline before seeking in-person care. More information from OH can be found here.
For the latest information and data on COVID-19 in Kentucky visit kycovid19.ky.gov or dial the Kentucky state hotline at 800-722-5725.
For the latest health guidelines and resources from the CDC, visit their website here.