COVID-19 and Farmers Markets – The Show Will Go On!

New guidance for farmers market operators was released by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture April 15, 2020. Nebraska farmers markets will be allowed to take place this year if they follow the mandatory guidance requirements, many of which are similar to procedures we are currently seeing in grocery stores.

Here are a few excerpts from Guidance for Farmers Markets Operators to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 Virus the farmers markets you frequent should be following this summer.

  • Increase the footprint of the markets to allow shoppers to maintain a healthy physical distance of at least 6 feet between each other.
  • Adding chalk/tape lines to keep shoppers at least 6 feet apart. Directional arrows can also be utilized to direct patron flow through the market.
  • jackson-farmers-market-carrots-3857359_1920
    Shoppers should allow growers to bag produce for them.

    Allow only producers and their staff to handle products. Customers should shop with their eyes and wait to touch their produce or products until after they have purchased them.

  • Separate farm stand spaces with at least 10 feet of distance between the tents, more where possible, to reduce congestion.
  • Do not allow the sampling of products at markets, or selling of drinks (like cider, coffee, etc.) by the cup.
  • Have producers and staff wear protective gloves.
  • Ensure that farm stands are using vinyl or plastic table covers for easy sanitizing.
  • Encourage producers to sanitize their stands regularly, primarily by wiping down tables, terminals, cash boxes, etc.
  • Remind farmers about proper food handling.
  • Provide additional hand sanitizers at market stations.
  • Discourage the use of reusable bags at this time.

Farmers market shoppers should follow good practices too, including the following.

  • Wear a facemask.
  • Remember that according to the CDC and USDA, the virus doesn’t appear to be transmitted through food or food packaging. But its good to be vigilant, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water often, and don’t eat your food with your hands.
  • strawberries-1988583_1920
    Prepackaging or selling produce by the count, is one way growers can reduce how frequently produce is touched.

    Shop by yourself. Don’t take several people with you.

  • Keep the recommended six feet between yourself and other patrons.
  • Shop with your eyes. Don’t touch everything. Just touch what you plan to purchase.
  • Bring a list of items you would like to purchase so you can get in, quickly get what you need, and get out again.
  • Do not use reusable grocery bags.

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