Moab has so far done well to protect its residents, but the reopening of the National Parks on May 29 requires us to act now with stronger preventative measures. I’m writing to urge my fellow residents to join me in asking our public health department, Kroger Foods (City Market) and the Village Market to REQUIRE masks for all shoppers immediately, before we see a large increase in the numbers of people needing to access our very congested grocery stores. The current policy of social distancing and suggested use of masks is already not working in these stores. I am impressed by the effort I see local residents and the store personnel are making to wear masks, and dismayed by the lack of concern for us already being shown by the tourists that have already arrived.
I welcome tourism and understand the resistance to making people uncomfortable. My proposal isn’t to require everyone to wear masks all the time. It is to simply require masks while shopping in our grocery stores. Food is the one thing everyone needs, and our stores are not built to accommodate the surge of customers we see with each tourism season. Trying to avoid high volume shopping hours isn’t the answer – it may protect those who can do so, but begs the bigger risk we are all facing: how to avoid having a large influx of people bring the virus and spread it into our community.
Requiring masks while grocery shopping would go a long way to preventing disease transmission, as this is the one place in Moab where large numbers of people mingle in a very crowded space. My mask protects others from me – but if others aren’t wearing masks then I’m shopping unprotected from them. Transmission in New York City was so high due to the concentration of people and the city being an international hub for travel. City Market feels like Manhattan during peak shopping, and the results could be similar when the large influx of travelers come once again from all over and crowd into our grocery stores.
This isn’t a radical request. Costco has implemented this policy of no shopping without a mask, and it has been met with public acceptance and approval. So please, make your voices known and let Kroger, Village Market and our public health department know we need them to protect us with this simple request. We all need food – residents and tourists alike. Shopping shouldn’t require us to take this type of serious health risk.