Tisbury requires masks to enter supermarkets

State regulations limit crowd sizes inside stores.

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Norma Blidgen, a supervisor at Cronig’s, wore a mask on Wednesday. On Thursday everyone inside a supermarket will be required to have one on. - Joyce Currier

Updated 3:30 pm

Once again, an Island town is taking regulations a step further than the state in an attempt to keep Islanders safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective Thursday, the Tisbury board of health is requiring all individuals entering a grocery story within the town of Tisbury to wear a face covering. “Although a cloth or surgical mask is preferable, scarves or other fabric covering the mouth and nose are acceptable alternatives,” an email from Tisbury health agent Maura Valley states. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently changed its guidelines and urged all Americans to wear face coverings while in public.

Although we understand that wearing a mask provides limited protection it may help to prevent the spread of coronavirus from the person wearing the mask to others who are nearby,” Valley wrote in a followup email. “Therefore if we all wear masks, we may be protecting each other.  This is in line with the national trend that recognized that the wearing of masks may reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is important to note that while wearing masks people must still try to maintain six feet between themselves and others.”

Supermarket employees are also required to wear masks, she wrote.

Valley added that the issue has been discussed with other health agents, but they have not yet followed suit.

Meanwhile, new state guidelines went into effect Wednesday requiring supermarkets to limit the size of crowds inside. Gov. Charlie Baker touched on the guidelines on Tuesday and they are posted on the state’s website.

Crowds are supposed to be limited to 40 percent of a store’s capacity. When possible, aisles are also supposed to be made one-way, according to the state guidelines.

Tisbury issued the following recommendations:

  • In order to limit the number of people in the store at any given time families are asked to have one individual shop for the entire family. 
  • Wash hands prior to going to the grocery store and use the hand sanitizer that will be provided, if available, at the entrance to the store.
  • Shoppers must be sure to maintain a distance of six (6) feet between themselves and other shoppers.
  • If the store appears to be busy when you arrive please consider coming back at a later, less busy time. 

In his latest video to customers, Steve Bernier, owner of Cronig’s mentioned the new requirements. Bernier is seeking volunteers to be “captains” at the door to help count the number of shoppers coming and going from the store to free up store employees to continue to work stocking shelves and waiting on customers.

He urged customers to continue to be patient and respect the six-foot social distancing. “With all of this employed, we should feel very confident that we are all very safe and doing the best possible job protecting the employees and each other coming into the store with our safety protocols,” Bernier said.

Maria Fruci, a spokesman for Stop & Shop, the other large supermarket in Vineyard Haven, said the company is shipping KN95 masks to all of its stores and they should arrive by next week. In the meantime, employees can wear their own masks to be in compliance with the Tisbury regulations. Fruci said Edgartown employees will also receive masks and are strongly encouraging the use of masks among all associates.

As for the state regulations, both stores will have an associate at the doors with an iPad to count the number of shoppers in the store to meet the 40 percent or fewer requirement, she said. Signs have also been installed at the stores to remind customers about social distancing and periodic announcements will be made about the capacity limits.

On Wednesday, the relative of a Times’ employee noted smaller crowds at Cronig’s and plenty of social distancing being employed. At the front of the store, Norma Blidgen, a supervisor at Cronig’s, wore a mask that said, “I’m smiling.”

At a press briefing Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker praised supermarket employees for working on the front lines. “You’re spending long hours away from home and away from your loved ones to make sure that others have the essential items they need,” Baker said, adding that the state would continue to work with local officials to ensure the safety of workers.

Reporter Brian Dowd contributed to this story. Updated to include comments from Stop & Shop. -ed

16 COMMENTS

  1. I am at a loss to understand the complete utter selfishness of those I see in public places especially grocery stores where people are STILL not wearing some kind of protective mask and disposable gloves. This is not rocket science, doesn’t matter at all if you don’t believe the warnings. We are not in a situation where it is your “perceived” right to do what you want. If this were like sunburn where if you chose to not protect yourself it would only affect you then I would be all for doing what you want. Come on people, stop thinking just about yourself. It is the dictionary description of complete selfishness.

    • 3D

      We do not have the “right” to have our own opinion and do not have the choice to not follow the herd?
      How about you are selfish for imposing your opinions on me, taking my right to walk around cronigs without looking like I live in China.
      Am I selfish for believing that we should not always try and outsmart nature? Humans already live way too long. Always fighting nature. Humans are selfish. You are selfish for thinking your life is more important then anything else.

      One week people were selfish for not protecting the environment with re-usable bags; next day- literally, next day; no one cared about the environment anymore. Meanwhile the environment is screaming out loud thanking us for the break in the real damage done daily- by humans—-excessive personal need to exploit the environment to its fullest …. those same selfish people think they are saving the environment by bringing a bag to bring their daily consumption of processed and packaged food home. Silly.
      So. Selfish…
      We send the healthy young youth into war and call them hero’s. And they are. They protect our way of life.
      How about we do not try and save everyone, we are all open and willing to lose and sacrifice ourselves and our loved ones;
      Would we not truly be in this “together” if we listened to the earth- regardless of the cause of this “virus” and we stop wasting billions of dollars and shutting down everyone’s life in order to save every human? If we would all be willing to sacrifice and lose for the greater good, would we then not truly be “in it together“?

      • “You are selfish for thinking your life is more important then anything else.” This is not being selfish. This is being sane.

        “Humans already live way too long.” This is not being sane.

        “If we would all be willing to sacrifice and lose for the greater good, would we then not truly be “in it together“?” No we would not. Suicide, either active or passive, is the opposite of being it together. It is martyrdom, and it is wildly irresponsible. No, you do not have the to right to make other people sick or cause them harm or cause them death. To whom do you refer when you claim, this is “our way of life?” Far better it is to be six feet apart on this earth than ten feet below it.

      • Libertarian sentiments have no place in a pandemic. You have no right to spread disease, and society has every right to protect itself from contagion. Your right to free assembly does not eclipse society’s right to be free of disease vectors. In a serious pandemic (more serious than this), you probably don’t even have a right to refuse an effective inoculation. I don’t care how long that libertarian party card has been in your wallet, what conspiracy theories you believe, or what gaia-hypothesis science fiction you confuse with with reality. Society has a collective right to protect itself from misguided, disease-spreading fools. Pandemics are an extremity of circumstance in which effective measures are more important than respecting fanatical fringe ideologies.

      • ninja– do you advocate for death with dignity laws ? May I ask you how you felt when governor Bush intervened in the Terri Schiavo case ? It seems possible to me that you may have a political leaning towards the right. Republicans have long resisted all death with dignity laws.
        Would you suggest that we not put people over 80 on ventilators ?
        I for one respect the sanctity of all life — (although I am pro choice) but I also respect the choice of people to determine their own destiny when it comes to end of life options. In my opinion, what you are suggesting is akin to mass murder.
        You put dollars ahead of life. Opening the economy in the manner you suggest will result in the loss of many lives. That is not a choice a compassionate society would choose to make. This will pass, and there is no reason to discard the infirm and the elderly so we can get back to the business of destroying the planet with our wasteful ways.
        And, I still care about the environment. When I go to the supermarket, my groceries go from my cart through self check out,(when possible) and back into my cart, and then I pack my groceries into my reusable bags in my car. Not only does it save the bag, but it cuts the cashier and the bagger out of the loop handling my food. I also hear that people in Beijing China are starting to see blue sky– It would be nice if they appreciated that and demanded a better environment going forward.

      • Ninja, you have the right to abstain from wearing a mask, but that doesn’t mean you can walk around Cronig’s while exercising it. Cronig’s is a privately owned store, and Mr. Bernier is clearly supporting the town’s call for everyone to cover their faces. Under these conditions, the store can refuse you entry and service. It’s not like a mask is invasive or an unreasonable request. Grocery store employees are taking a big, selfless risk by continuing to go to work. I think the least the public can do is support them, and everyone else who’s afraid to be in a crowd, by covering up.

  2. This is imperative. Masked, at least six feet away from others, a study from Finland was published showing the way a cough spreads in a supermarket…..it is frightening….remember, buildings have micro climates with their heating and air conditioning, particles do not stay static….please, mask and glove and get in and out…one person per family, as rarely as possible. It behooves us to think of our neighbors and others.

  3. 3D
    Selfish?
    You are worried about me wearing a mask to save your life because the government told you so.
    Where is the care, and the financial investment from the government- or your unselfish help?- for the thousands of children- our future- who are not receiving an education because they live in remote locations where access to internet is lacking. I have three of them here. Want to not be selfish and help us out? $350,000 is all it takes, Comcast quote to run cables to my home- it’s our future generation vs weak and immune compromised – where is the focus of all these selfish humans?????
    My children’s future are on cusp of making and breaking- all of them healthy happy children, sacrificing their future for the “greater good”?

    • 3D,
      I just took a rather harrowing board exam in Immunology, at a School in the Boston/Cambridge area. While the course of study was of a level of complexity bordering on a nightmare. Depressing at times, too. Had to see a lot of very sick people all along the way. A virus is an extraordinarily dangerous thing. (They are never actually alive, so you cannot kill them.) No one in the government told me to wear a mask because I was supposed to be worried about people who do not wear masks. My worry about people who don’t wear masks is a decoction of facts, fear, and common sense.

    • ninja– you can get access to just about everything on the internet with a satellite dish.
      But, I am curious as to where you live that would require $350 k to get you an internet connection ?
      And if in fact, you are that far out there in the boonies, why are you on this forum ?

  4. 3D
    Even in rocket science people are of different opinions on how to accomplish an outcome.
    We are not selfish.
    We are not ignoring warnings.
    We -most of us- believe the warnings.
    We are not comparing it to a sunburn.
    We just approach rocket science from a different angle then you do.
    And are being ostracized for it.

  5. The science is clear. The facts ignore your opinions. Many people who are carriers have no symptoms and don’t even know they have it, yet they can easily pass it on to those around them. Wearing homemade masks is more to protect those around you, not you! Not wearing a mask in a crowded area puts other people’s lives at risk.

  6. Thru all this “mask” debate we should understand that most masks, including the N 95 are designed to filter the air being inhaled but not the air being exhaled which is handled via a check valve. The good news is that the exhalation port deflects the air downwards to at least prevent a horizontal blast toward others.

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