News Coronavirus Food Alert

All outdoor markets – food and non-food – can fully re-open from 1st June

Sustain has welcomed news that all stallholders in outdoor markets will be able to trade from 1 June, and indoor markets from 15 June, and is calling for Councils and landowners to re-open and support all markets.

Credit: Ruth Westcott

Credit: Ruth Westcott

Food-selling market stalls have been permitted throughout COVID-19. However, since over two-thirds of markets have closed - most on the instruction of the Council, landowners or market authority – many food businesses have been forced to shut up shop. Now all open air stalls including hardware, plants and household items have been given the green light and Sustain, the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) and other groups are urging Councils and market authorities to re-open as soon as possible with good social distancing in place.

New data suggests that the small enterprises and local producers that make up the bulk of market traders have been hard hit by COVID-19. The majority (70%) are predicting a downturn and 8-16% of stallholders expect to go out of business.

Ben Reynolds, deputy CEO of Sustain says:

"Food markets supply vital affordable produce, and livelihoods for smaller traders and producers. Shorter supply chains are more beneficial to our farmers, and closing markets exacerbates the strain on supermarkets and on Government support. We would like to see markets open as soon as possible, and for them to be more successful than ever"

Sustain is suggesting the following steps to get markets back on their feet. 

  1. Establishing clear and well-communicated social distancing in the market, in order that visitors feel safe. There are lots of tips here and on Sustain's twitter feed. A combination of signage at entrances, chalk/tape floor markings, and having a staff member to limit numbers in the market at any one time is recommended. 
  2. Promotion and spreading positive messages - via council social media accounts and newsletters etc. It is especially important to champion our great local producers and advertise the produce they are offering. If some are offering home delivery, that can be advertised that as well. 
  3. Suggesting a number of different ways for traders to operate, like pre-ordering online to make the time spent at stalls shorter. In the USA some are offering a 'drive through' market which could be an option if many local residents are medically vulnerable.
  4. Waiving fees or rent to help reduce financial losses.

The Prime Minister noted in his announcement on Sunday that the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in open spaces, and has been welcomed by the NMTF.

Joe Harrison, their CEO, echoed Sustain’s calls for support to traders:

“The announcement that markets can open up again will be a massive boost to many market traders and small businesses. This is a lifeline and we urge them to support and cooperate with market operators as they face the difficult challenge of complying with government guidance”.

National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) Chief Executive David Preston said:

“We are pleased at the fact that markets were specifically mentioned by the Prime Minister. This demonstrates the recognition of the value and importance of markets to the high street and local communities. The new High Street Fund is a welcome incentive to help and encourage markets to start back. We are urging our members to apply to the fund to help meet some of the costs involved. It will be important for operators, traders and customers to now work together to welcome back markets across the UK.”

Sustain have gathered the following useful resources for market managers:

  • There is growing evidence that transmission rates for COVID-19 are significantly lower in well ventilated areas like outdoor markets compared to enclosed shops. This study found the infection rate for COVID-19 to be 19 times higher in confined spaces than well-ventilated ones.
  • On 29th April, the deputy chief medical officer for England said it was "clear" that outdoor spaces were less problematic environments for transmission than indoors, see:
  • NMTF have produced guidance for all market operators and traders 
  • NAMBA (National Association of British Markets) have launched an information page for market updates on the latest guidance and announcements and have published their position here
  • FRA (The Farm Retail Association) have published guidance written by Growing Communities on running a market safely 
  • Farm Retail Association can support markets who may be considering online orders/delivery services. Please connect with them on Facebook for a helpful support pack
  • Sustain coordinates pages updating links to all the advice above for markets, along with other advice on the food response to Covid-19.         

Please JOIN OUR ACTION and ask your councillor to re-open and support your local market   

Coronavirus Food Alert: Sustain's work on food resilience in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We are helping secure food for vulnerable people and supporting local emergency responses.

Published Wednesday 27 May 2020

Coronavirus Food Alert: Sustain's work on food resilience in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.We are helping secure food for vulnerable people and supporting local emergency responses.

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