Co-op Extending Mask Requirement Until April 11th
As Washington State plans to lift the mask mandate on March 12, the Co-op Staff has been pondering and debating about how to respond as a business operating our public spaces. We conducted a survey of the membership concerning the Co-op’s mask requirement. We received more than 1100 responses and over 800 comments! The results were almost evenly divided, with a slight majority in favor of following the state’s lead.
The Co-op is a private business, and as such, we’re allowed to continue to require masks in our stores. So after much discussion and thorough review of survey results, CDC mask guidelines, the Governor’s proclamation, and Thurston County Health Department statistics, we’ve decided to extend the Co-op’s mask requirement for an additional month, until April 11th.
As a natural foods grocery store, a high proportion of our shoppers are particularly vulnerable and sensitive. While Thurston County Covid infection rates are on the decline, Pierce County rates are still high. We’ve decided to support the most vulnerable in our community by taking a little extra time in transitioning to taking off our masks in the stores.
We will continually be reviewing community and national data around Covid risks. If infection and hospital rates continue falling in our region, we’ll end the mask requirement at the Co-op beginning April 11th. If numbers start climbing again, like they did last summer when the mandate was briefly lifted, we will respond accordingly. In the meantime, our online ordering for curbside pickup will remain available for all members.
This was not an easy decision to make. Staff has been extremely challenged when enforcing mask wearing for shoppers and this may become even more difficult without the state-wide mandate in place. We ask for your continued patience, support, and understanding as we slowly and cautiously move toward ending all pandemic restrictions.