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Answering your Questions About COVID-19 and the Co-op
Our members are rightly concerned about the Novel Coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, and have asked how the virus is affecting the Co-op. Stay tuned to this page for regular updates.
Latest Information: Tuesday, July 28
Reusable Bag Ban Lifted
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu announced that the state was lifting a ban on reusable bags in grocery stores, rescinding an emergency order that had been in place since March.
In response to the order, all Co-op locations in both New Hampshire and Vermont will now allow the use of reusable bags. Since reusable bags have been allowed in Vermont since the beginning of the pandemic, the Co-op lifted the reusable bag ban in the White River Junction store in early July.
To help keep our stores, shoppers, and employees safe, customers are asked to follow these guidelines:
- Make sure your bags are clean. Wash bags thoroughly between trips to the store.
- Pack your own bags. If employees are asked to assist, they will use rubber gloves.
- Never let bags out of your possession. This includes not putting bags on the belt at checkout.
Beginning Monday, July 27, the Co-op will require all shoppers, vendors and visitors to our locations to wear a mask covering both nose and mouth. This requirement has been put in place for the safety of our entire Co-op community. >>Read More
National Coin Shortage
According to the Federal Reserve, our country is experiencing a disruption in the normal circulation patterns for U.S. coins. This is making it difficult for businesses to have enough coins on hand to meet demand. If possible, please pay with exact change, credit or debit card, personal check, or mobile payment when checking out at the Co-op. Or, you may consider rounding up through our Pennies for Change program to donate to local nonprofits.
Vermont Adopts Plastic Ban
Vermont’s “single-use product law” goes into effect July 1, 2020. The law bans Vermont retailers from offering single-use plastics to customers, including plastic straws, plastic stirrers, and grocery bags. The ban also includes polystyrene dishware, egg cartons, and take-out containers. Plastic bags will still be available for loose fruits and veggies. Retailers may also provide paper bags at checkout, but the law requires retailers to charge customers 10 cents per bag.
Remember: This law does not apply to New Hampshire stores. >> Learn More
Customer FAQs About COVID-19
Listed below are a few of the most common questions we are being asked about COVID-19 and the Co-op.
What are you doing extra for your employees during this time?
Wonder what we offer our awesome employees? Here's a super-quick overview.
Benefits: More than 80 percent of Co-op employees work full-time, with industry-leading benefits. This is in direct contrast to many large food retailers, who offer mostly part-time jobs with no benefits.
Time Off: Our employees have generous paid time off banks they can use if they become ill. We have also made it possible for many employees to take advantage of federal programs and our own new COVID-specific policies so they can afford to stay home and stay healthy.
Essential Employee Bonuses: Employees received a $300 bonus in March for going above and beyond the call of duty. In April, employees will also receive an additional short-term bonus of $2 per hour for every actual hour worked. The bonus will cover two consecutive pay periods.
Lunch: Everyone's favorite non-monetary benefit! We provide lunch to employees in all locations one day each week. We order from a wide variety of restaurants so we can support our colleagues in the local business community. (Thanks, awesome Upper Valley restaurants!)
Will Co-op employees be wearing face masks?
In response to member and employee requests, beginning Wednesday, April 15, all Co-op employees will be required to wear a mask. This applies to employees at all Co-op locations, including those working in administrative offices. This policy follows recommendations from the CDC and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
General guidelines are:
- The mask must remain in the employee’s possession while at work.
- The mask should not be placed on any Co-op surface if removed.
- If the mask is placed on a Co-op surface, that surface must be thoroughly cleaned.
- Masks are never to be disposed of at work.
- Carry it in, carry it out.
We have a detailed SOP around the use of masks, which has been shared with all employees.
How are you keeping prepared food safe?
We're looking at many different ways we can change our operations to best serve the community during this stressful time. Our leadership team meets every morning to explore opportunities like this one. So, no idea is off the table, including this one.
Co-op employees must follow a strict set of standard operating procedures while handling products and have all been briefed again at this time on detailed directives on hand washing, hand sanitizers, product considerations, and guidelines for preventing foodborne illness and the spread of infection.
We encourage customers to follow food safe practices at home, including increased hand washing before and after preparing food, sanitizing surfaces and utensils after each use, and cooking foods to proper temperatures
Will you be offering home delivery of food?
We’re currently looking at the resources we’d need to implement a grocery delivery service. Currently, we're experiencing record high volume, and our first priority is simply making sure our shelves are stocked as best we can. That’s said, we want to ensure that should we offer a curbside pickup service we are able to sustain the service for our valued members.
Our leadership team meets every morning to explore opportunities like this one. The goal is how to best serve our community during these stressful times. So, no idea is off the table, including this one.
Can you provide curbside pickup of groceries?
Members, our popular curbside pickup program is easy, convenient, and you can shop online! We offer more than 500 products and the list is growing weekly. Prices are the same as in stores. Shop online and pickup your items curbside Tuesday—Saturday, 9 am–4 pm. >>Learn More
Will you be adjusting your store hours?
Effective Sunday, 6/7/20 Hanover, White River Jct., and Co-op Market locations will resume closing at 8 pm.
Full-service departments in Hanover and WRJ, such as PFD, Deli, Meat, and Seafood, will continue to close down at 6 pm with prepackaged items available for customers throughout the final two hours of the day. Closing these departments early will allow time for continued thorough cleaning.
Hanover, White River Jct., Co-op Market
At-Risk Population Hour: 8–9:30 am
General Shoppers Hours: 9:30 am–8 pm
At-Risk Population Hour: 8–9:30 am
General Shoppers Hours: 9:30 am–8 pm
Essential Persons Hour: 8–9 pm
How are you keeping your employees safe?
Our leadership team is meeting daily to discuss what precautions should be taken to keep our employees and other community members safe during this very stressful time. The leadership team is in daily communication with store employees and talking one-on-one with employees in the store to gage how they are feeling and what steps can be taken to help better support our employees.
We couldn't be more thankful for the amazing hard work and effort in going above and beyond our employees have done over these past two weeks. It has been a tough and stressful time for our teams and they've been amazing.
How are you encouraging social distancing in your locations?
We will be placing special indicator signs on the throughout our locations on the floor. These help mark the recommended 6-foot distance to keep between yourself and another shopper. We are also installing plexiglas shields at the checkout to help provide additional distance through a smaller space.
Below are recommendations on what you can do to help social distancing measures while grocery shopping.
- Do not come to the Co-op if you are symptomatic of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath).
- Please reserve the first hour of business 8-9:30 a.m. for high-risk shoppers and the last hour 8-9 p.m. for essential persons (Lebanon Store Only)
- Maintain a six-foot distance from others.
- Shop efficiently and if you must socialize, please do it outdoors.
- Consider ways to minimize shopping trips for your neighbors and family.
- Shop solo, including without children to the extent possible.
- Cover your cough/sneeze, wash hands often, use sanitizer, and try to touch only the products you purchase.
What are your return policies during this time?
Any product purchased at the Co-op may be returned within 30 days of purchase at any of our locations.
Until further notice, all returned items are being discarded and will not be returned to the shelf. If we are made aware of a potential return via phone or email, we are asking customers not to bring the item(s) into the store.
Is the Co-op accepting glass milk bottle returns?
Yes! We are still accepting glass milk bottle returns. Though, instead of putting these on the belt, we're asking that you let your cashier know how many bottles you're returning and then you can place them in the crates near our registers to send back to the farms. We've modified the program so we can continue to keep employees and customers safe while also continuing to support our local farms
Additional COVID-19 Links
Nourish. Cultivate. Cooperate.