Image for Masks Help Keep our Community Safe

One of the strengths of our co-op is the willingness of our members to speak up! I have heard from those of you who are upset by the Co-op’s mask requirement and I have heard from those of you who are upset because you feel that we aren’t doing enough to enforce mask use. Unfortunately, I am sorry to report, at times our staff has had to bear the brunt of shoppers—sometimes very angry shoppers – who want to argue for or against the policy and our enforcement of it. Of course everyone is welcome to their opinions, and we just ask that your opinions be expressed respectfully. It is hard to be in the grocery business at any time, and even harder now when we enacted a requirement to wear face coverings in our stores shortly before the City of St. Paul made mask wearing in businesses mandatory. Face covering policies make sense. Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that everyone who potentially comes into close contact with others, such as when they are in a store, wear a cloth face covering or mask.  Masks help prevent spreading at the source, even when people don’t know they are sick. Your mask helps protect me. My mask helps protect you. No one claims they are 100% effective—but plenty of scientific evidence supports they make a difference by trapping respiratory droplets to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We care about the health of our staff. We care about the health of our community. In fact, helping empower our diverse communities to be healthy is part of our mission.  We want to be able to continue to serve our community by providing essential goods – from beans and rice to chocolate and Key lime pie. We need our staff to stay healthy if we are to run our cooperative effectively, and you can help by wearing your mask.

Our country has one of the worst track records in the world for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic with over 3 million confirmed cases and over 133,000 deaths. Recently we are seeing significant spikes in states like California, Texas, Arizona and Florida. Let’s not see Minnesota added to that list. As our economy gradually reopens, wearing masks, along with frequent handwashing and social distancing, are critically important ways to help prevent the resurgence of the disease.

It is unfortunate that our country doesn’t have a uniform policy on the use of masks. That is beyond our control. But our city does have a requirement, and our co-op does have a requirement. When the mask requirement first went into effect we gave out hundreds of masks in a matter of days. But now most people are used to it, and we estimate that over 95% of our shoppers are wearing masks when they first enter the store. We appreciate this. And please remember, that if you do see someone without a face covering it is possible they have a medical condition that makes it problematic for them to wear one.  If you prefer, you can skip the in-store experience and use our Curbside at the Co-op service to order your groceries on-line and pick them up at our East 7th store.

These are challenging times for all of us. Nothing about life is normal, and the behavioral changes we have had to embrace will be with us for a while.

Stay well,
Catherine Downey
Interim General Manager