For the past decade, design that fostered a sense of community had been the theme at Bocchi Laboratories in New Albany.

These days, much of the focus has shifted to health and safety as the business institutes measures for its staff amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, said Elena Olivieri, Bocchi vice president and general manager.

An example is the cafeteria, where group tables have been replaced with single tables.

"It feels like we're undoing the things that we were trying to encourage," she said.

Bocchi, at 9200 Smith's Mill Road North, is a contract manufacturer in the cosmetics industry. It's one of the businesses within the New Albany International Business Park that has been adjusting operations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Like Bocchi, many businesses were able to avoid ceasing operations altogether as the pandemic took hold in central Ohio.

New Albany community development director Jennifer Chrysler said the May 4 reopening of manufacturing and distribution companies largely didn't affect New Albany's business park because many in that sector didn't close. Only two manufacturers suspended operations, Chrysler said.

Still, businesses were not unaffected by the pandemic.

The city communicated with many of its major employers in the corporate-office industry cluster that were working from home, and several instituted furloughs, she said. Other businesses pivoted to make new products, she said.

Although candlemaking was considered nonessential during the state's stay-at-home order, Alene Candles, 8860 Smith's Mill Road, was able to continue its operations by switching to manufacturing face shields, said plant manager Darrell Finck.

Alene suspended its candle-manufacturing operations in mid-March, Finck said. From April 9 to 27, the business manufactured more than 30,000 shields. They went to nursing homes, hospitals, surgical centers, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic and police and sheriffs' departments. The remainder are going to small businesses as they prepare to reopen.

Finck said Alene began making candles again May 6, and the company's 250 employees are transitioning back to full-time work. All remained on payroll throughout the stay at home order, he said.

Alene has erected physical barriers in break rooms to assist with social distancing and has set up handwashing and sanitizing stations in the factory, Finck said.

Employees are health screened and complete a weekly questionnaire about their health. Physical barriers are up for people who might have to be closer to each other than 6 feet when working.

At Bocchi, staff members are redoing the cafeteria to install single tables and have adjusted shifts to better adhere to social-distancing guidelines, Olivieri said.

Although the company is taking measures to ensure the health of its staff, forecasting demand for the products it makes is more difficult, she said.

Bocchi has been making hand sanitizer for several months, Olivieri said. But demand for the company's typical products depends on the business that Bocchi's customers get.

The pandemic, she said, will change people's buying habits. For some, cosmetics are extremely important. For others, they are a luxury.

"We just don't really know what the future will hold for us," she said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah