SINCE the beginning of the pandemic, New Hampshire Grocers Association (NHGA) has been actively engaging in evaluating the evolving edicts of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines and the State of New Hampshire’s Emergency Orders. To address the food industry’s needs, NHGA immediately decided to fully support both the CDC and governor’s emergency orders. However, while certain requirements had valid intentions of protecting the public and all essential workers, the statements were quite broad and needed more clarity.
NHGA researched the best practices of national trade groups and state food associations from across the country in order to develop standards that enhanced and provided more specific compliance. Final action included state approval of our suggested procedures and then communicating these to the entire food industry in New Hampshire.
One of the issues most debated is the use of facial coverings. CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Since this declaration, the CDC, Governor Sununu and NHGA continue to urge voluntary compliance by all consumers and store employees. This preferred compliance accommodates individuals who have an aversion to using masks for health reasons and other legitimate concerns.
Unfortunately, there are people who are opposed to any compliance mandates, which has led to confrontations between the customers and the store employee.
On June 15, 2020, Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order 52, which now mandates all staff must — and customers should — wear face coverings at all times when inside the store. As an industry, we understand and agree with the store requirement and urge voluntary customer compliance.
Some individuals feel that the store is responsible to enforce customer compliance. Food stores do not want to be in the position of enforcing directives on shoppers. If a mandate is issued by a government body, that political entity should also empower its law enforcement agency for compliance. The best resolution is for both retail and the government bodies to urge everyone to adopt and support all guidelines and emergency orders.
Stores are willing to remind customers of what they should be responsibly doing in a pandemic and urge compliance through signage explaining those guidelines being initiated by government.
On behalf of the food stores throughout the state, we respectfully request voluntary compliance by everyone and to allow businesses the right to determine any directives over and above these recommendations.