• 50°

Shoppers, leaders, merchants lobby for wearing continued masking

Perhaps Brundidge Mayor Isabell Boyd said it best.

“There’s a demon in the forest.”

You can’t see it or hear it. You can’t smell it or taste it or even reach out and touch it.

“The unknown is scary and we are dealing with the unknown,” Boyd said. “We all need to be doing all we can to make it through this pandemic. Wearing masks in public is the least we can do, and maybe the most we can do.”

And, Gov. Kay Ivey did the state’s part on Wednesday by extending the mask mandate until Jan. 22, just two days before it was set to expire.

Ivey said recent times are some of our darkest days since Covid-19 became a part of most of the nation’s daily lives. She encouraged all Alabamians to use common sense is the days moving forward.

However, Robin Taylor of Troy said common sense is not common these days.

She pointed to grocery stores as a prime example of how lightly some people are taking COVID-19.

Eating is a necessary habit so grocery stores are vital to everyday life, Taylor said.

“I don’t want to have my groceries delivered,” Taylor said. “But when I go inside grocery markets and so many people aren’t wearing masks, it’s unnerving. I have a young boy at home. I have to think about him and about my parents who are older and my husband’s parents.”

Masks aren’t the only means by which to provide protection from the coronavirus but they are the most visible.

“People who go into stores without masks are showing disregard for the safety of others,” Taylor said. “If putting a piece of fabric over your mouth will help your family and others stay safer, it’s a little thing to do.

“Wearing a mask might be an inconvenience but it’s not forever. And, even if it doesn’t help, it’s a way of showing concern for yourself and others. It never hurts to try. It’s up to us to be good neighbors and good people.”

Taylor said she, like so many others, wants to support the local economy.

“I want to go in the grocery market to shop,” she said. “And, I don’t want to order from Amazon. I want to shop locally. But I also want to feel safe doing so and I don’t feel safe seeing shoppers who aren’t wearing mask or observing social distancing. That’s the least we can do as individuals to curb this deadly virus.”

Taylor said the wearing of masks has been mandated by the state and should be enforced locally.

“I want to shop at home but I also want to be safe when I shop,” she said. “Some stores require the wearing of masks and have markings for social distancing, others don’t and that makes it hard to feel safe. Feeling safe is most important to me.”

Steve Garrett, owner of Piggly Wiggly 231 and North 3 Notch, said he encourages shoppers to wear masks but does not require that they do.

“I hear complaints on both sides,” he said. “The great majority of our shoppers wear masks and there are a few who can’t wear them. “

Garrett said in the larger 231 store, social distancing is easier but not so in the smaller 3 Notch store.

“We have signs that say to keep a six-foot distance and most people respect the personal space of others,” he said. “Gov. Ivey has extended the mask mandate and, as much as I personally dislike it, the mask mandate provides a security blanket and makes many people more at ease.”

Garrett said he encourages those who have concerns about public shopping and those considered at risk to choose a low traffic time for shopping.

“Early morning hours are usually slower but any time after lunch is busy,” he said. “The days that items go on sale are busy. Between now and Christmas, it will be hard to tell.”

Annette Bryan of Brundidge said, laughing, she drives by the grocery store and, if there are a lot of cars, she goes home to go back later.

“I shop early and I always wear a mask,” she said. “I do what I can to protect myself because I can’t control what others do. Wearing a mask might not help but it doesn’t hurt and it wouldn’t hurt if we all wore masks until it’s safe again.”