Farmers markets open, but personal safety in question

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Farmers markets are open for shoppers, despite tough business restrictions during Gov. Tim Walz's "stay at home" order. But they must operate with certain restrictions and guidance. 

Minneapolis has taken steps to operate its popular markets safely. However, when KSTP visited the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Lyndale Avenue, it was clear that not all market-goers were adhering to the city’s rules.

“I really don’t see them respecting it,” Kris Singh, a long-time vendor said. “Everyone’s pretty much doing what they want."

Singh runs Caribbean Heat and Mama Julie’s, which sells hot food, fresh jarred salsa and tortillas. He tells KSTP he, his coworkers, other vendors and farmers depend on these markets being open.

According to the city of Minneapolis, farmers markets are open because the state considers them essential grocery providers. There are couple of main conditions they must operate under:

•  Shoppers must stay 6 feet from each other and workers.
•  All food must be taken off site before eating.

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If you plan on visiting here are what you need to know to keep you, other people there, and vendors safe:

•   Stay home if you or someone in your home is sick.
•   Send only one person into the market to shop.
•   Wear a cloth face covering.
•   Wash hands frequently.
•   Maintain a 6-foot distance from anyone else.
•   Be efficient and do not mingle.
•   Do not touch products until the vendor hands you your purchase.
•   Preorder online if possible.

The city, and market managers, have taken steps to help people shop safely. If you go, you can expect to see and experience these changes:

•    Borders around the market with limited entrances and exits.
•    A limited number of customers in the market at one time — there may be a wait.
•    Wider aisles with one-way movement and waiting areas.
•    Credit card and no-touch transactions preferred.
•    Hand-washing or hand sanitizing stations.
•    No samples offered.

Signage to inform customers is scattered throughout the market, and both the city and the market have shared these guidelines online and on their social media pages.

Because of how a farmers market usually operates, managers at the Lyndale Avenue location say enforcement will be tough, but they say they get their guidance from the city and do their best to ensure safety.

A spokesperson for the Minneapolis city government issued a statement to KSTP on farmers market safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Farmers markets throughout Minneapolis are working quickly to adapt and adopt appropriate safety measures during this pandemic. The City provides guidance, signage and other resources to help markets keep their shoppers safe so they can continue providing healthful, local food. We are working closely with the Minneapolis Farmers Market staff and its board to ensure proper safety measures are taken. We will continue to monitor the situation there and make adjustments where needed.