It is fair to say most people are looking for guidance and clarification on what they can and cannot do during the lockdown. Not everyone shares the same opinion as to what constitutes essential shopping, and of course, if shops or markets are going to open, people will inevitably attend.
The critical issue is to manage people in and around shopping locations, but this is where clarity is needed. There are many opinions on what constitutes safe and responsible shopping, and there has been a perfect example in our local community.
The West Hampstead Farmers Market is a fantastic feature of our local community. People come from far and wide to buy here, to speak to other people, and to socialise. Of course, right now, people should come to shop, and that is it.
The market is a great source of fresh food
As the market is an excellent source of fresh food, there is a compelling argument for keeping the market open. Also, anyone looking to support local and independent businesses can do so at the market. Many people are calling for markets to remain open because they help people buy the quality and quantity of food they need right now.
It is therefore easy to see why a lot of confusion exists around the market. If people attended, shopped safely and left, there would be no problem. However, many people will instinctively linger around the market in the manner they have always done, and this causes a problem in the current environment.
The police have attended the West Hampstead Farmers Market, and there have been calls to local authorities to make changes to how the market is set up.
The police have visited the market
The West Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood team tweeted the following comment after officers visited the market. “At the time, distancing measures and crowd control measures were being observed and managed by staff. Where people were too close, they were asked to space. People who did not need to be there were directed to leave.”
Fortune Green councillor Lorna Russell said: “I love the weekly West Hampstead Farmers Market but I’m concerned that they are not properly enforcing social distancing. I’ve reported this to Camden [Council] and hope they’ll spread out the stalls and allow fewer people in at a time next week. If not, I can’t see how they can stay open.”
Camden Council has said they are keen to allow street markets to operate because it assists people to buy fresh produce.
Councillor Richard Olszewski detailed some of the changes that have been made at the market to increase safety, saying; “It was properly gated, looked well-managed with an identifiable responsible person controlling entry. Many of the stallholders were wearing face masks, and there was signage on keeping distance.”
As lockdown restrictions change, and better safety measures are introduced, it is hoped that markets can operate without any fuss or risk of annoying people. It is good that people care about safety, and hopefully, there is a way to allow marketers to trade while maintaining social distancing regulations.
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