Masks Mandatory at All Co-op Locations Beginning July 27

A Letter from the Co-op General Manager

To Our Community, 

This week our teams met to finalize the details on mandatory mask usage at the Co-op. As a result, beginning Monday, July 27, the Co-op will require all shoppers, vendors and visitors to our locations to wear a mask covering both nose and mouth. This requirement has been put in place for the safety of our entire Co-op community.

Early on in the COVID-19 outbreak, we made masks mandatory for employees. We also used all methods of moral persuasion and communication at our disposal to encourage the use of masks among shoppers. For the most part, these efforts have been very effective.

We track the data and have found that the vast majority of our shoppers voluntarily wear masks and follow our social-distancing guidelines.

Still, most is not all. Over the past few weeks we have ramped up our efforts to encourage customers to wear masks, including initiating a pilot program in our White River Junction store of giving masks away to any customer who did not have one. All of these ideas have had a positive impact, but we have yet to see all customers voluntary wearing masks as we had hoped, and as they should. Clearly, we have done our best to exhaust all other methods, and the time is now to make this step mandatory

Although most shoppers are happy to comply, the use of masks is not welcome among all shoppers. As I have written previously, our employees will not take on the role of bouncer. They will not be placed in harm’s way. Day and night, employees will have the teamwork, support, and backup they need to implement this policy safely. Managers will be on hand to assist and take over anytime an employee is uncomfortable with a customer or vendor interaction. These managers are well-trained on how to respond in difficult situations and will know exactly what to do.

For our shoppers who cannot wear masks due to underlying medical issues, we have plans in place to help serve you, too. Also, remember that online ordering and curbside pickup is available in three locations—the Hanover and Lebanon food stores and the Co-op Market. We offer nearly 4,000 products and the list is growing weekly. Our curbside pickup customers can stay in their vehicles during the entire interaction, so no masks are required. Visit our website to learn more.

Additional masks and face shields for customers who may need them are being circulated to all locations this week. I am confident that most customers will be happy to comply with this policy, and that we have a good plan in place for those who refuse.

I would like to thank the many members and shoppers who have gladly worn a mask since the beginning of the pandemic. You serve as true role models, wearing masks without complaint as you go about your shopping.

As always, if you have thoughts or questions, reach out to me anytime. I want to know what you think. In the meantime, my thanks to all of you as always for your support. Remember to be kind to one another and to yourselves. See you in our stores and at the curbside.

Onward and upward,

Paul

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Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone

Paul Guidone, CFA, spent the better part of four decades in the investment management business here and abroad. He held positions ranging from analyst through Deputy Chairman and Group CEO, at organizations such as Citigroup (US) and The HSBC Group (London and Hong Kong). He joined the Co-op in 2016 as the CFO and in 2018 became Strategic Advisor to the General Manager. Paul was appointed Interim General Manager by the Co-op Board effective March 8th. To contact, email PGuidone@coopfoodstore.com.