PEI

How 2 P.E.I. repair services are responding to COVID-19

Repair services, including construction, electrical, plumbing and heating are listed as essential services according to the Chief Public Health Office. But for some Islanders, the risk of contracting COVID-19 while on the job is just too great and they have shut down.

Plumber adds extra protection while electrician decides to close down

Matt Eye, owner-operator of M.B. Eye Electrical in Charlottetown, decided to close the business on Wednesday. (Matt Eye)

Repair services, including construction, electrical, plumbing and heating are listed as essential, according to the Chief Public Health Office.

But for one Island electrician, the risk of contracting COVID-19 while on the job is just too great, and he has opted to temporarily shut down his business.

Matt Eye, owner-operator of M.B. Eye Electrical in Charlottetown, decided to close on Wednesday.

"Myself and my employees, we all have children at home, we are in several different homes and businesses with our line of work and we were afraid of coming into contact with something like this," Eye said.

"We want to do the proper thing. We don't want to be the guys running around town with everybody shaking their head at us."

'It hits very deep'

The decision to shut the company affects eight employees and their families, including Eye, who has twin two-year-old boys at home and a seven-year-old.

Eye said the projects that are on hold because of COVID-19 include solar installations, renovations and general service work. (Matt Eye)

"So for me personally, it hits very deep that I would not want to infect someone else," Eye said.

"I'm a healthy adult, but there's always a chance that I could carry it and pass it on to someone else."

Eye said the projects that are on hold because of COVID-19 include solar installations, renovations and general service work.

"Basically anything that is not a priority right now, we've decided as a whole to put on hold for the safety of our family and everyone else," Eye said.

'We're all in this together,' says Eye. (Matt Eye)

Eye said customers have been understanding.

"We're all in this together and I think based on government and Heather Morrison's decisions, in order to beat this we all need to stand together," Eye said.

Taking safeguards

At Mr. Plumber in Charlottetown, the office is open but the doors are locked and no one from the public is allowed inside.

Instead they are offering curbside pickup for orders and plumbers heading out on the road are taking extra precautions.

"I'm just being very proactive, making sure I take all the safeguards that Dr. Morrison has mentioned, as well as my bosses, just trying to be safe," said Rick Long, a red seal plumber with the company for six years.

Rick Long, a red seal plumber for six years with Mr. Plumber, says he is wearing two pairs of gloves and a respirator mask. (Mr. Plumber)

"I'm wearing actually two pairs of latex gloves on a regular basis, normally I would only wear one," Long said.

"I've kind of upgraded to a bit of a respirator mask when I'm in people's houses as opposed to just the ordinary construction dust masks that I would normally wear."

Long said he's also very careful to talk to homeowners about whether they've been travelling or have any symptoms.

"Before I even open the door, I usually call somebody from the driveway," Long said.

"But I ask them if they want to ask me any questions and then I ask them if they've been away, out of the country for any length of time."

'Get me in, get me out'

Long said what has been different this week is that homeowners have taken him to where the work needed to be done and then left him alone.

"You know they obviously have to have me in their house for whatever reason it might be, but most of them seem to be pretty cautious themselves and not really wanting to deal with me, other than get me in and get me out."

The offices for Mr. Plumber are open, but the doors are locked and no one from the public is allowed inside. (Mr. Plumber)

Long said he's hoping that everyone he is seeing is being upfront and honest about their health.

"I have to trust that the people, their safety is as important as mine and that they're going to be honest with me," Long said.

"You know if I go to a place and I feel uncomfortable there you know for whatever reason, I've got my opportunity to walk away, but it's yet to come to that so far."

Financial support

Eye said he's not sure what the temporary shutdown will mean for his business.

"Being a small business on the Island this is going to affect us, not today, not tomorrow, but in the months to come," Eye said. 

"I have a good staff. We've all talked together and we've decided that we're just going to come through this and work together as best we can to help each other out."

The decision to shut the company affects eight employees and their families, including Eye, who has twin boys at home that are two and a 7-year-old. (Matt Eye)

Eye said he will be exploring the financial support being offered by the federal government.

"As a small business, we have listened to the commitments that Justin Trudeau's making, it's nice to know that Canada has our back," Eye said.

"I know I'm probably one of the first to make this decision, but I I hope that others do the same so we can all get through this together."

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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