Starting July 1, You May Leave Your Mask at Home!

To Our Community,

Today is July 1st. Summer is officially in full swing, and believe it or not our fiscal year is half over. Time does move quickly. But today also marks the beginning of new dawn – a hopeful return to a life of normalcy.

This week Co-op employees rose to the challenge of a common purpose – to attain our internal target vaccination rate of 70 percent. This is a remarkable achievement given that the rate stood at 47 percent just a couple of weeks ago. To reiterate the significance of this:

This means that effective today, July 1, all employees and vendors can join our shoppers and go mask-free!

Needless to say, I look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces. But make no mistakes—mask use is still welcome at the Co-op and always will be. We must remember that a 70% vaccination rate, awesome as it is, means that some Co-op employees remain at risk of catching this hideous disease. Remember to protect yourself, your family, and our employees and adhere to common-sense social distancing practices. For those of you who feel safer wearing a mask, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, we will always support your personal choice.

Be safe, be wise and when in doubt wear a mask. No one at the Co-op—employee, vendor, or shopper—will be singled out for wearing a mask.

This has been a long road, but I want to remind you that it is not over yet. As you probably know, the COVID-19 Delta variant is highly infectious and public health officials worldwide continue to track it and monitor its impact. The Delta variant preys especially on the unvaccinated, partially vaccinated (one dose of a two dose series), and those over 50 years of age. In the future, we may need to take additional safety precautions, and masks may still be necessary. As I have written previously and stated at our Board meeting on July 23rd, should COVID infections, including variants, rise in a meaningful way in the Upper Valley, I will, without hesitation or reservation, reinstate the mask mandate for everyone – shoppers, employees and vendors.

As we have done from the beginning, we will continue to make our decisions, with an abundance of caution, based on the science at hand and incorporate the guidance from the CDC and other health officials.

Furthermore, we will be keeping our Plexiglas shields at our check–out lanes and maintaining our thorough daily and nightly cleaning policies throughout all of our stores. I would like to extend a special Thank You to our Facilities team and to SR Max, our third-party cleaning company, for keeping our stores clean and safe for all shoppers, employees and vendors.

But for now, let us all celebrate the accomplishment of hundreds of people working together to achieve this shared goal. This day has been a long time coming. Our employees have earned it. I am proud of all of them—the best in the business—for all they have done throughout the pandemic to put safety first.

Wrap Up

My thanks to all of our members and shoppers for the continued support. The vast majority of our shoppers have been totally supportive of our employees, mask mandates, and social-distancing policies from the very beginning. If you would like to stay fully updated on the latest changes to our COVID-19 policies, please visit our COVID Policy Dashboard, located here.

As always, reach out to me anytime if you have feedback or questions. In the meantime, be kind to one another and to yourselves, and enjoy returning to mask-free days. We look forward to serving you in our stores and at the curbside. I hope you, and your families, have a great weekend and a safe, happy and healthy Fourth of July.

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 by the Co-op Board as interim General Manager in March 2020 and General Manager in September 2020. To contact, email PGuidone@coopfoodstore.com.