Greetings from the Co-op. Given the encouraging trends in COVID-19 cases and lessening of precautions on federal, state, and local levels, we have been studying the data and planning our own next steps. Unless there is a significant change from current trends, the Co-op will adopt a mask-optional policy on Monday, March 28.
We believe this approach is consistent with our goal to provide a safe shopping and working environment. The risk of contracting a severe case of COVID has certainly improved. However, we feel ten more days is warranted to allow everyone time to get comfortable with the change. And while COVID risks will always be with us, case counts are down, immunity is up, the current variant is less virulent, and we appear to have ample testing and treatments available. We are also seeing a rapid social shift with individuals and organizations increasingly taking off their masks.
Going forward, we will continue to offer curbside pick-up at no additional fee. We will maintain the plexiglass shields at our deli counter and registers for the foreseeable future. Our café will remain closed for now as well, although that decision is driven more by a shortage of workers and the need for storage space. As the warmer weather returns, we will add additional outside seating.
Given the range of perspectives towards COVID, we recognize that there is no single decision that would be supported by all Co-op members, shoppers, employees, and local vendors. For those who disagree with our policy, I ask that you direct any complaints or counterpoints to me and not Co-op staff. My contact information is listed below.
Of course, we will all need to be prepared to pivot if a new variant appears and there is a surge of cases locally (cases linked to a new subvariant are currently increasing in parts of Europe). The Co-op will be ready with a stock of masks and other supplies. Our Co-op community has weathered this pandemic with a great deal of success; I am confident that together we can navigate the coming weeks as we move into the next stage.