On June 11th Governor Mills announced that she will be removing the Civil State of Emergency and, along with that, the last remaining face-covering requirement in Maine on June 30. In response to the end of the State of Emergency, your Belfast Co-op will be ending our mask requirement in the store, Wednesday, June 30th. Although the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the county has fallen, shoppers and workers are still encouraged to wear masks and social distance while in the store (per Maine CDC recommendations).
Thank you to everyone who has supported our decision to take our time in adjusting to a return to business as normal. To those who are not comfortable with returning to a mask-optional shopping experience, our Shop for Me curbside program remains available at no cost. Shop for Me has been vital to our efforts to provide for our at-risk and immuno-compromised neighbors and that will not change. Find out more at: www.belfast.coop/shop-for-me
It would be folly to see this decision (or any we have made during the last sixteen months) as anything other than a compromise. The polarized social and political climate in our community has driven a wedge between neighbors and families, between coworkers and friends. In a world lacking in absolutes or clear “right” answers, we are left to make decisions that will protect the most vulnerable and support the health and safety of those that depend on us the most. I want to be clear that we are not forgetting our most vulnerable neighbors. As we pivot towards the idea of personal responsibility as a one-size-fits-all concept, I understand that we stand to potentially disappoint some members of our community.
With that said, watching the heightened tensions around mask-wearing and the rise of organized resistance in the state planning civil and legal disruptions, I am no longer able to protect our workers from the resulting extremism. If you or someone you know is involved with one of these organizations, I implore you to reflect on whether attacking Co-op workers or the Co-op as a whole truly helps reach your goals. Through all of this, your Belfast Co-op continues to be a community-owned, democratically-governed organization. If we are our best selves, we are, by the nature of our structure, a reflection of the needs and aspirations of our community. Democratic member control is one of our guiding principles. Attacking your neighbors does not align with or promote any of the cooperative values nor does it promote freedom.
The lasting legacy of our time during the pandemic remains to be seen, but I now know one thing: when pushed to their limits, people show who they really are. It seems silly to view a local grocery store as a microcosm of humanity, but I have seen more kindness, compassion, vulnerability, humanity, honesty, and faith in the Co-op in the last year than ever before. I have also seen the darker side, and pride, distrust, fear, and anger have all had their day.
Moving forward, I hope that we can come together again and care for each other as neighbors and friends. The things that divide us are insignificant compared to the things that bind us together. Let’s hold on to that.
Wishing you all a safe and happy Summer.
-Doug Johnson, Belfast Co-op General Manager
Questions or concerns may be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Maine continues to demonstrate nation-leading progress in administering vaccinations and containing the spread of COVID-19. More than 73 percent of Maine people age 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 64.9 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. CDC vaccination tracker. Maine, adjusted for population, also ranks 4th lowest in total number of cases and 4th lowest in number of deaths from COVID-19, according to the U.S. CDC.” From Maine Governor Mills’ statement, read it here:
We will continue to provide updates on any operational changes and encourage our community to continue to follow all the recommendations that keep our neighbors and families safe. You may go to our website: belfast.coop/covid-19 for any and all updates regarding our guidelines.