This November 2019 photo shows a line of shopper standing outside Centennial Hall while waiting to peruse the wares of Public Market vendors. That year’s event featured more than 200 vendors. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

This November 2019 photo shows a line of shopper standing outside Centennial Hall while waiting to peruse the wares of Public Market vendors. That year’s event featured more than 200 vendors. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: We can either follow the mitigation rules or cancel the Juneau Public Market

And the show will go on.

  • Monday, November 1, 2021 11:28am
  • Opinion

By Peter and Sandy Metcalfe

With the approach of the holiday season, it is a good time to reflect on our blessings. We have much to be grateful for including improved recreational facilities and trails, rebuilt roads, new construction such as housing for the homeless, the new Glory Hall, and the Alaska Native art center rising on Sealaska Plaza. We are also fortunate to have an incredibly effective system of public health care and emergency services.

The pandemic has tested us, especially school children and their parents, businesses and the medical community, but the people of Juneau have responded — nearly 90% of those in our age demographic (65 and older) are now fully vaccinated as is over 80% of the eligible population (12 and older). Soon children will be included in these statistics.

Masking and social distancing are now routine and has met with a level of civility here that is admirable, especially compared to elsewhere.

On Thanksgiving weekend, we will open the 39th annual Juneau Public Market. We invite you to come down and enjoy shopping with the worthy artists, crafters and entrepreneurs of Juneau and throughout Alaska who will benefit from your support.

Since we can admit only people who are fully vaccinated and wearing masks, it will be as safe as such shopping can be in Juneau. The CBJ COVID management office, in approving our plan, told us that these “…two mitigation measures, especially when combined, are incredibly effective at keeping people healthy and keeping businesses open.”

By small steps, our community is returning to normal.

Last year, we hosted a virtual Public Market. For us, it was as if we had to cancel a family reunion. We know it was helpful to the vendors who participated, but it was about as much fun as a Zoom meeting. It is the socializing that makes the Public Market special.

To open this year, we will follow the new covid rules just as we have long followed fire safety rules.

Until the risk level declines, the city requires music concerts, theater performances and holiday events like ours to limit attendance to those who are fully vaccinated and wearing masks.

Increasingly common is the advisory that “attendees must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 completed at least two weeks prior to the event.” To enter the Juneau Public Market on Nov. 26, the vaccination series has to have been completed by Nov. 11. Cellphone images of vaccination cards qualify.

We’ve inquired about exceptions, but there are none.

The consequence is that some people believe they are victims of discrimination such as those who observe religious prohibitions or who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons; others have immunities and believe the vaccination requirement unnecessary and some refuse to comply out of principal.

We sympathize — no one appreciates being told they can’t join the fun. But we can either follow the mitigation rules or cancel the Juneau Public Market.

And the show will go on.

Happy holidays to all, and please be safe!

• Peter and Sandy Metcalfe organize the annual Juneau Public Market. More information, see juneaupublicmarket.com and for more on mitigation measures, click through the menu item FAQ.

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