By Paul Burton

NATICK (CBS) – With so many people stuck at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, many are turning to home improvement projects to keep busy.

That means trips to stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. But in our new world of social distancing, are those to-do lists really essential?

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Cleaning supplies, building material, masks and rubber gloves are flying off the shelves at home improvement stores that are considered essential businesses

“For cleaning supplies like paper towels we have seen increased demands and our supply chains and merchandising teams are working around the clock to make sure those shipments are coming,” said Home Depot spokeswoman Margaret Smith.

At Home Depot in Natick they are taking the coronavirus crisis seriously. Signs are posted everywhere. Entrances and exits are roped off. Customer capacity is limited and store hours shortened.

“We want customers to still come in for those critical and essential needs,” said Smith. “We’ve been assigning social distancing captains in stores to reiterate the physical distancing.”

On Monday, Home Depot announced it is canceling major spring promotions so customers aren’t driven to the store in large numbers. In addition, the number of customers in stores at once will be limited.

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Builder Dan Geary loads up in the parking lot so he can finish the project he started before the pandemic began.

“We have the house ripped open. So if we had to get sent home, it would not be good for the customer or us,” said Geary.

Matt Dorneles is grateful to keep working during these challenging times.

“I have a little daughter. That’s going to help a lot. Home Depot is everything for us,” he said.

Smaller stores like Curry Hardware in Quincy are seeing an uptick in business. They are also being very cautious

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“A very busy March which is uncommon for us,” said owner Sean Curry. “We’ve been very good at trying to do lines at the front door and allow people in one at a time. Lucky that we are classified as an essential service. What you’ve seen is really people being stuck at home for lack of a better word and really looking for projects to do.”

Paul Burton