No one yet knows the full extent and ways COVID-19 can be transmitted, but with more coronavirus cases cropping up among grocery and supermarket employees, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that, despite every precaution taken to avoid spreading or contracting the virus, supermarkets have become a prime source of doing exactly that. The only way to stop this, protect our own, and protect those who will come, is to close the doors to walk-in traffic.

The only way to keep employees safe is to limit their contact with customers. The only way to keep customers safe is to limit their contact with customers. The only way to stop the spread of the virus, is to stop the spread of the virus. It is that simple.

We do know that there are plenty of people coming into Moab from outside the area, despite the lockdown, who are trying to get away from their own areas, and no matter how well they take precautions and keep their distance, all will have to go into City Market or other markets to get food and basic supplies. We know that until we are totally self-sufficient and grow all of our own food, all of us will have to do the same.

We can’t just wait around for the virus to run its course, or until someone develops a vaccine, which could take a year or two and may or may not be 50% effective. We can’t wait around until there are ways to test everyone easily and often for the presence of the virus, or for the virus to infect the entire population, risk our health care workers, kill off our most vulnerable, and allow everyone to get sick and hopefully recover and develop the antibodies to fight the infection when it comes around again. We can’t welcome back the world, without making our community a safer place to host and receive the world.

That seems to be reason enough to ask City Market and other markets to close the doors and set up for only pick ups or deliveries for all of their customers. City Market could very well afford to hire and train a lot more workers. They could charge a fee to cover the additional cost. The funds from our TRTs [Transient Room Tax] could take up the slack. The earnings from the tourists coming back into our town would more than make up for the cost of the new hires.

Everyone could call City Market to set up their appointment, go there at the appointed time, then call in to say they had arrived and be handed over to a “personal shopping assistant” inside the store who could then walk through the store with a shopping cart while they were on the phone (or FaceTime) with the customer to select the items and check out in the normal way. Assistants could also be used for the gas pumps and the pharmacy.

How much are people’s lives and their livelihoods worth that we are still having a conversation like this? We need to establish protocols for surviving this pandemic and any others, and closing supermarkets to walk in traffic is a good one. In order to lift the shut down, the SEUHD suggested “some changes that could be implemented are as follows: Short-term nightly rentals reopening with no in-person check in, grocery pick-up only” It certainly seems that extending “grocery store pick-up only” to apply to everyone who needs to shop for their groceries might be a good idea for locals too!

Rob Kerchen

Moab, Utah