The New (Safety) Standard

By: Julia Piper

The line of customers stretches all the way to the entrance of the store, each pushing a cart piled high with pantry staples ranging from pasta to toilet paper, and eager to check out as quickly as possible. At the register, a young woman carefully wipes down the conveyor belt before beginning to ring up another pile of items, as she warily braces herself against stray coughs from the couple standing in front of her. Allergies? A cold? Something more serious? There is no time to hesitate, however, as the line continues to grow and the conveyor belt keeps moving. 

I am privileged in this brave new world of ours: I am not in any high-risk categories, nor a caretaker for anyone who is. I can work from home when necessary, and I live within 10 miles of world-class medical centers. Most importantly, I’m part of a local, social community that is informed and individually responsible. On a walk into Davis Square yesterday, my girlfriend and I saw six people perfectly distributed at six foot increments around the perimeter of a small, fenced in dog park. Later, we ran into a grad school friend on a shopping trip with her girlfriend, and we intuitively and respectfully stood at each end of a crosswalk, alternatively inquiring loudly about each other’s parents. 

As a small business whose success is determined by our ability to engage and connect with people, Aeronaut is in a position that can be interpreted as either economically vulnerable or advantageously unique. We choose the latter. Our role as a social institution—-a company whose product encourages free-flowing conversation, community organizing, and self expression—charges us with exceptional responsibility during a public health crisis. Therefore, it is up to us to not only ensure that our employees are equipped with the most up-to-date health information and safety procedures, but also to set a standard for the entire community. 

We are committed to providing enjoyment, escape, and creative expression through beer as long as we can do so safely for our staff and for all of you. This means that every time we open our doors for to-go sales or make a delivery to a local store we are thinking of our coworker’s 65-year old mom with asthma, your grandmother’s trip to the grocery store tomorrow at 7AM, or the clerk at the register who steadfastly does her job as the rest of the Somerville community streams past her for eight hours a day. Now that lives and livelihoods are on the line, we must all rise to the occasion.

We are working 24/7 to address forthcoming challenges and we want to share with all of you what we have come up with so far. We are making our Public Sales Safety Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) open source and available for anyone to adopt, modify, and share. It is attached at the bottom of this post. At Aeronaut, our jobs are dependent on keeping our staff and community as safe as possible, so we have routed all of our resources into developing a set of COVID-19 safety standards and SOPs. This is a fast-evolving project and we will be making new and updated SOPs available to the public as we begin using them ourselves. Please read, post, and share this content if it is at all relevant to your work or daily lives! We are also always looking for input from medical, public health, and other professionals on how we can improve these SOPs. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out.

We were living in extraordinary times two months ago, and the challenges we are facing for the foreseeable future may be no more existentially threatening than the humanitarian and environmental concerns we have spent the last several decades debating. But we have to pick up the pace if we are to get through this moment without devastating and lasting effects. I have no doubt that we are innovative, empathetic, and hardworking enough to thrive in these times, but we have to work together in bold new ways. Please help us do our part—and know that Aeronaut will be here for all of you as long as we can. To everyone reading, I raise my beer to your health, happiness, and long life. I mean that now more than ever. Prost!

Julia Piper is the Director of Operations at Aeronaut. The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original author, and they do not necessarily represent those of Aeronaut Brewing Co.