As we posted in our last update about the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer is going to look different than summers past. All of the protocols in that article – like limiting the number of people in the building at once, seating outside only, and separate entrances and exits – will be with us all summer. In fact, we have completed our COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan and it is posted here for you to see. We took this process seriously because we take the safety of our staff, vendors, and customers seriously.

However, people continue to ask me “Do you want people to come to the Co-op?” The implication is that the more people who come to the Co-op, the more potential for exposure to the virus, and so do we really want that potential exposure? The answer is a qualified yes:

We do want people to come to the Co-op as long as they follow the rules. These rules include Federal regulations (e.g., self-isolation for 14 days after entering the country), Provincial regulations (e.g., staying within BC for travel), and Co-op protocols as outlined in our Health and Safety Plan.

The risk of exposure in BC seems low right now although that could change at a moment’s notice. Regardless, the point of all of these rules and regulations is to minimize the risk of exposure, and that’s why we need to follow them. If we’re all doing our best, then we trust that our environment is as safe as possible. That’s the first priority for all our staff and customers.

And, of course, we want people to come to the Co-op because we want the business! We don’t want the business for selfish reasons – we want the business so that the Co-op remains a viable community enterprise. The obstacles right now are significant; we experienced a rare financial loss during our last fiscal year and the restaurant business is in serious trouble when half of the Canadians in a survey state that they’re not comfortable dining in at a restaurant for the foreseeable future. The store has done well over the past few months, but it’s clear that we’re facing a deep global recession and that all businesses will have to evolve in order to survive. Regardless of what the future brings, we will continue to depend on our members and our community.

At the same time, we have to emphasize that following the rules is not optional – everyone has to be doing their best in order for us to stop the spread of the virus. BC has become an excellent example of flattening the curve. However, for our staff, enforcing the rules is an especially onerous task. In the US, some restaurants have had to close down their dining rooms because of rude and combative customers who refuse to wear masks as mandated by the government. While our cases are not so extreme, we have seen plenty of people who either aren’t aware or don’t care about the protocols we have in place. Sometimes they are rude or disrespectful. This makes our jobs awkward and uncomfortable because we’re simply trying to do what’s best for everyone. 

We ask that you become familiar with our current rules and protocols. If you have a question, ask us. If you see something that concerns you, bring it to our attention. If you have a compliment, please share it. Above all, please show kindness and respect for our other customers and our staff. These are challenging times on so many levels, and yet all of our challenges – personal, regional, national, and global – call for respect above all else. As I wrote in an earlier post about COVID-19, in these challenging times, let’s leave behind the old adage of “Desperate times call for desperate measures” and replace it with “Extreme times call for extreme kindness.”  We ask for your cooperation as we move ahead together.