Farmers’ markets are considered an essential service under the BC state of emergency and are expected to comply with hygienic practices and physical distancing to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
: February 19, 2021
The advice below is based on current recommendations and may change. Please reference materials and recent updates from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Ministry of Health and BC Centre for Disease Control.
Farmers’ markets are essential food and agriculture service providers. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, indoor and outdoor farmers’ markets are expected to comply with recommendations and orders from the Provincial Health Officer (PHO). The COVID-19 safety plan must be updated in accordance with current PHO orders and guidance. For example, customer numbers are to be restricted by the size and space within the market. Under the Gathering and Events order farmers market owners, managers, vendors and customers have
specific responsibilities. Owners must be satisfied that managers are
aware of requirements under the market COVID-19 safety plan. Managers must
ensure requirements are met, including vendor health-checks prior to attending
the market. Owners, managers and staff must advise persons who cannot
safely enter the market to leave. Customers must comply with signs, directions or measures intended to promote physical distancing and to prevent congregation. Consult the PHO order to ensure you are
meeting the latest requirements.
Municipalities are involved in interpreting provincial orders, as they issue business licences to farmers’ markets; in some cases they are owners of the property where the farmers’ markets operate.
- Calculate the maximum number of people that can be safely accommodated in the market.This should be equivalent to 5 square metres of space per person, and this number should be documented in the COVID-19 safety plan.
- Monitor the number of patrons entering the market and ensure this number does not exceed the number stated in the COVID-19 safety plan.
- Limit entry and manage line-ups to allow for physical distancing separation of 2 metres between individuals and family groups within indoor and outdoor market areas.
- Minimize entry and exit points to control the number of customers. A single entry and exit location is the best way to manage the number of customers. In large market spaces that may include several streets or blocks, cordon off areas to limit access. Physical distancing poster (PDF).
- Direct traffic through the market through the use of chalk or tape markings on the ground, ropes, barriers or other markers as required.
- Vendor booths are set-up with sufficient distance between booths and positioned to facilitate a one-way movement of customers through the market.
- Maintain a 2 metre distance or provide a physical barrier between vendors and customers to prevent transmission of respiratory droplets. Where not practical vendors are required to wear masks.
- Manage physical distancing for food vendors providing take away service (for e.g., when ordering and picking up food).
- Create an environment in the market where customers can practice safe physical distancing of 2 metres and avoid congregation points.
- Provide seating that allows physical distancing of 2 metres between groups with no more than 6 people in one group at a table.
- Post signs reminding customers about physical distancing requirements:
- In line-ups and washroom areas reminding people to maintain a 2 metre physical distance from others
- Reminding people to keep moving in one direction through the market
- Reminding people to avoid congregation
- In seating areas,
- to remind customers there must be no more than 6 people at a table from one group
- to remind groups to seat themselves two meters apart from other groups
Check the WorkSafe site requirements for Health Checks
. The requirements for farmers markets described in the PHO Gathering and Events order are described below:
- Managers must ensure vendors carry out and pass health checks each day vendors participate at a market.
- If a manager is unsatisfied with the vendors health check they must not permit the vendor to be present at the market.
- Vendors must perform health checks and confirm with managers they have passed the health check, otherwise they must not be present at the market.
- A person must not enter or must leave a market if advised by the owner, manager or staff that they person cannot be safely accommodated, for example, if health check requirements are not met.
- Masks may be required to be worn by the vendor when a two metre physical distance, or physical barrier between vendors and customers, are not possible or practical.
- Masks are required to be worn in all indoor public spaces, including farmers' markets. Vendors are not required to wear a mask when
- the vendor is unable to wear a mask without assistance from another person,
- health condition or impairment,
- the mask is removed temporarily to identify the vendor or communicate with a customer,
- the vendor is eating or drinking and not involved with a customer.
More information about masking requirements, exemptions to masking requirements, and what to do when a customer refuses to wear a mask, can be found on the Employers & Businesses
Markets may sell food items for human consumption. Food items include fresh, frozen and prepared foods, take-away from food carts and food trucks, and pre-packaged liquor. This includes lower risk foods prepared at home and higher risk foods as described in the
Temporary Food Market Guidelines. (TFM guidelines)
Vendors are allowed to sell:
- Fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs
- Frozen pre-packaged meats and frozen ready-to-eat pre-packaged foods (e.g., pies, samosas, meals)
- Home-prepared low risk foods as identified in Appendix I of the TFM guidelines
- Higher risk foods prepared in an approved facility
- Pre-packaged non-alcoholic beverages
- Liquor only in sealed retail containers (e.g., bottles, cans)
- Take-away meals from food carts and food trucks
- Edible plants and seedlings
Note: On-line vendors may continue to sell non-food items for pick-up or delivery to customers (described under additional measures).
In indoor and outdoor markets:
- Provide hand-washing facilities and/or access to hand sanitizers for vendors and customers.
- Provide washroom facilities that includes a toilet with running water, soap and paper towels for hand washing and drying, or hand sanitation supplies.
Handling of products, including food and non-food items:
- Vendors are encouraged to pre-package prepared foods to minimize direct contact by customers
- Prepared foods (i.e. bakery items for e.g., breads, muffins) that are not pre-packaged foods at the time of sale must be protected by a barrier (i.e. sneeze guard) or stored away from customer access. Vendors must package the product at time of sale.
- Customers of farmers' markets must not use their own containers; vendors must dispense all unpackaged prepared foods and takeaway foods.
- Where customers self-dispense foods (unpackaged fresh and pre-packaged prepared foods) vendors must
- Provide hand washing or hand sanitizing nearby
- Post signs about hand hygiene and physical distancing measures
- Implement a frequent cleaning and sanitizing of booths and utensils used at the booth.
- Food sampling activities, including by the glass sales of wine or other alcohols are not allowed.
- Regional health authorities may process temporary food permits for the purpose of selling food but not sampling food.
- Markets must cancel activities that promote gatherings, such as demonstrations.
- Markets may play recorded background music or engage live musicians to play background music but must not allow customers to congregate at that location. We do not recommend artists sing near customers (to limit risk of respiratory droplet spread from artists). Markets should not be promoting or advertising music at the market. Background music should not be louder than normal conversation.
- Market vendors selling ready-to-eat foods must package foods into closed take-away containers or brown bags and post signs advising customers to comply with physical distancing requirements.
- Markets must implement enhanced frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces within the market.
- Markets must restrict entry to anyone who is ill; vendors, if they are ill, should not attend and customers who are ill should also be advised to not enter the farmers’ market.
- Farmers’ market guidelines can be found on the BCCDC web-site. As with any foods prepared at home for sale at the market, if you are ill, or someone in your household is ill, do not prepare or package foods, including low risk foods.
- Establish pick-up points in farmers’ markets (for e.g., drive-thru pick-up where feasible) for on-line orders.
- Where feasible create cashless payment systems through on-line orders and point of sale devices in vendor booths.
- On-line sales of food and non-food items from organized markets are not restricted. However,
On-line food sale items may be picked up at the farmers’ market in a designated area or pick-up point. Choose an area where congregation with other customers can be avoided. To avoid congregation in the market and in market parking areas alternate preferred options are:
- high risk foods made in an unapproved facility may not be sold on-line
- non-food items must not be picked up at the market (see item 13)
- delivery of on-line items,
- pick-up outside of normal market hours.
- pick-up outside of the market, or
- curb-side pick-up,
Non-food items may be sold on-line, but must not be picked up at the market. They may be picked up by customers when pick-up is compliant with the Gathering and Events order
, section J: Drive-through and drive-in events
. Some examples include pick-up in adjacent parking lot, pick-up outside of market hours, or pick-up in another location. Check with your local market manager for specific details.