Hanukkah is here and Christmas is coming. This time of year normally brings joy and connection for Ketchum residents and their families, near and far. We busily wrap and ship presents, send Christmas cards and wish each other the best during this festive time.
But this is not a normal year, as we all know too well. Idaho is currently under modified Stage 2 restrictions, including limitations on gatherings of 10 or more people, and our local mask orders continue. People in our community have shown how much they respect and care for each other through our high rate of mask wearing and commitment to social distancing. Keep it up—there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Yet one central place in Ketchum stands out for its lack of respect for our community: the Ketchum post office. As holiday postal traffic rises, I have been contacted by numerous Ketchum residents and business owners over the past two weeks. They ask why the post office is doing almost nothing to protect its own hardworking employees, and its customers, during this difficult time.
I have spoken with the Ketchum postmaster (who does not wear a mask even after respectful requests), and many of our residents have told me that they spoken with him as well. We have all confirmed that there are no plans to provide outdoor package pick-up, an outdoor mailing kiosk, curbside service or delivery to homes. We all must crowd into the small retail area, to wait 10, 20 or 30 minutes to give them our yellow cards or mail our holiday packages.
This is unacceptable and unlawful under Idaho’s Stage 2 restrictions. The post office is different than bars and restaurants, where we can choose whether to go inside or get takeout. It is different than our local grocery stores, which generously provide curbside service and home delivery. Unlike most of America, we have no choice here in Ketchum—there is no home mail delivery. Instead, we must go inside the post office to send and receive mail and packages that we pay to not be delivered to our homes. In particular, our large senior population relies on the post office to communicate with their families and friends elsewhere.
I encourage our community to contact Postmaster John McDonald at 208-726-5161 and request immediate provision of outdoor/back door package pickup, curbside service and other measures to limit crowding inside the post office for the duration of Idaho’s COVID restriction orders. If you see a violation of the Idaho Stage 2 restrictions, such as gatherings of over 10 people in the retail area, you can also report it to the Ketchum Police Department at 208-726-7819.
Let’s keep our wonderful Ketchum postal employees safe and smiling in their funny Christmas hats. Let’s keep each other healthy and ready for a better year ahead. Let’s insist that our local post office not be the super-spreader of our community.
Amanda Breen is the Ketchum City Council president.
(Editor’s note: The post office does have 6-foot distancing marks in the lobby and Mr. McDonald said he makes “every effort” to stay out of the lobby when he is not wearing a mask.)