Several farmers’ markets in B.C. are opening for this season this weekend, but under new rules as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues.
Vendors at farmers’ markets, which are considered an essential service, must only sell food and no other merchandise, as directed by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Vendors are expected to comply with hygienic practices and physical distancing to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. However, they are exempt from the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.
The number of people in an area must also be limited, hand-wash stations must be set up, and cleaning and disinfection protocols must be increased.
At the market in Port Moody, which opened on April 19, organizers decided to create just one entry and one exit point, keep vendors six feet apart, get customers to only travel one way through the market, and allow only up to two people at the same time in a stall.
There is also no sampling of products and no dogs allowed.
Markets opening this weekend are in communities such as Coquitlam, Ambleside in West Vancouver, Fort Langley, Creston Valley, Grand Forks, Kitsilano and Trout Lake in Vancouver, and Errington in Parksville-Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, to name a few.
This year is 25th anniversary of the Vancouver Farmers’ Market organization, which runs eight weekly markets around the city, starting with the one in Trout Lake on Saturday.
“We had originally planned a series of special events,” interim executive director Laura Smit said in a news release.
“Now, the focus is on providing an essential service to the community and helping our farms stay in business.”
Some winter farmers’ markets have been able to stay open, and Smit said attendance has been higher than expected under the pandemic.
“Some folks have told me that the markets are the only place they shop.”
Many markets are also moving online, so that customers can put in their orders and go to pick them up without having to worry about social-distancing rules.
You can find a market near them and see which markets are online on the B.C. Farmers’ Market Trail website.