More About Masks: New Employee Guidelines and Navigating Change

A Letter from the Co-op General Manager

To Our Community,

This week New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu’s Task Force on Re-opening established a series of revised guidelines that will have a significant impact on businesses throughout the state. The good news is that much of this is nothing new to our Co-op. Many of the requirements are things we are doing already. However, there is a change regarding masks that will affect some of our employees, and I would like to bring this to the attention of our members as well.

Beginning immediately, all employees must wear masks—meaning cloth face coverings, not shields—at all times in all locations, no exceptions. Because we are a two-state organization, this applies to both our Vermont and New Hampshire stores. For the past several months, our employees were required to wear face masks. Furthermore, some employees have had the option to wear a face shield in place of a mask if the employee worked behind a fixed Plexiglas partition. Based on the Governor’s mandate, we can no longer do that. The new regulations also impact our employees’ self-screening procedures, adding several new symptoms to the checklist.

Is the Governor’s office being overly cautious? Frankly, I hope so. As you look forward to the day you do not have to hear or read about face coverings, I too look forward to the day I do not have to write about them.

But all that said, from the beginning of the outbreak, our commitment has been to employee and shopper safety, and we have made all of our decisions out of an abundance of caution. The requirements of the Governor are no doubt guided by a similar philosophy. This mirrors the cautious, measured approach of many other communities nationwide, including those in our region. In New Hampshire, the towns of Enfield, Hanover, and Lebanon have all adopted mandatory mask policies.

Today I shared the Governor’s new guidelines with all of our employees and reiterated our commitment to safety. This includes an emphasis on employee breaks. At the Co-op, we want our employees to remove their masks to get some fresh air regularly throughout the day. This means, at minimum, a 10-minute break every two hours. During that break we ask our employees to leave the building and to take the mask off completely. Our managers are instructed to check in with employees often to make sure they are getting this opportunity.

Wrap Up

In closing, my thanks to all our members for supporting our employees as they navigate so much change in such a short period of time. Remember that one of the best ways you can support employees is to follow our mandatory mask mandates, cheerfully and respectfully. In the meantime, be kind to one another and to yourselves. We look forward to serving in our stores and at the curbside.

Onward and upward,

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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 General Manager by the Co-op Board in September 2020. To contact, email PGuidone@coopfoodstore.com.
Paul Guidone

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