By Admin. Posted on
Guidance for Alberta-Approved Farmers’ Markets During COVID-19
The Government of Alberta recognizes the important role that Alberta-approved farmers’ markets play in both the social cohesion of a community and the economic livelihood of farmers and small business. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that farmers’ market activities align with all Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Orders and public health measures enacted to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in Alberta.
Farmers’ markets are considered places of business. They serve to provide goods to Albertans, and at this time, controlled public access to farmers’ markets is permitted. Farmers’ market managers and vendors are required to adhere to section 11 of CMOH Order 07-2020 and prevent the risk of transmission among vendors and their customers. This can be challenging given the popularity of farmers’ markets.
This document has been developed to support Alberta approved farmers’ markets (farmers’ markets) managers and vendors/stallholders in preventing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among workers, volunteers and patrons. It will also inform the expectations for other types of markets such as public markets.
This document highlights only some of the information and requirements applicable to markets. For further details on requirements for preventing the spread of infection in public gatherings and business settings, market managers and vendors should refer to any documents referenced within and consult with Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health.
As the COVID-19 outbreak is an evolving situation, this document and the guidance within is subject to change and will be updated as appropriate. The most up to date information related to COVID-19 can be found online.
Roles and responsibilities
The Government of Alberta has developed Workplace Guidance for Business Owners that will also assist market managers and vendors/stallholders in preventing the risk of infection amongst vendors and customers. In addition to the legal requirement to follow Orders set out by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, farmers’ market managers and vendor/stallholders are expected to adhere to requirements set out in the workplace guidance document.
The market manager is ultimately responsible for ensuring that Orders issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health are followed in the market and in any associated areas supporting the market. Market managers are also responsible for ensuring the proper and adequate maintenance of bathrooms and the cleaning and disinfection of common, high touch surfaces.
Market managers are expected to consider the following measures to help achieve their infection prevention objectives:
· Prioritizing and minimizing the types and numbers of stalls allowed to operate
· Advising customers to minimize browsing and socializing to accommodate as many customers as possible while avoiding crowding
· Limiting the number of customers within the market at any given time to avoid crowding
- Consider factors such as size of the market space, number of vendors, types of vendors, popularity of the vendor products, and likelihood of crowds gathering at specified vendors, in determining an appropriate number of customers for the market
· Restricting the number of customers lining up inside or outside of markets
- Ensure a minimum of 2 metres between customers by using chalk lines outside on sidewalks, spray paint on grass, tape on flooring to guide customers, etc
· Using only one main entrance and separate exits so that customer volume and directional flow can be monitored and controlled
o For outdoor markets, use clear signage and ropes or barricades to create a single entrance and separate exits
· Spacing vendor stalls in a way that prevents transmission of infection amongst vendors
o Incorporate empty space between stalls
o Locate stalls that are expected to have line ups away from other stalls to allow customer flow without crowding and mingling
The unique structure of farmers’ markets will bring site-specific challenges that must be identified and addressed by the market manager. Many farmers’ markets are held outdoors, but some may be in buildings such as arenas, curling rinks and community halls. Public access to these buildings is restricted to those operating and attending the farmers’ market for the sale/purchase of goods.
The market manager is responsible for managing peripheral activities that might typically occur at a farmers’ market. Examples of these activities include, but are not limited to, eating in dining areas singing, craft activities, amusement rides, face painting, and other social activities. Many of these activities continue to be prohibited by public health orders. It is strongly recommended that entertainment and social activities be prohibited to minimize gathering and to focus the market on the sale of goods. Food service is permitted, but seating capacity is limited to 50% of normal occupancy, and physical distancing must be maintained, except for members of the same household.
The market manager will need to clarify expectations and responsibilities with customers, vendors and property owners before problems arise and to avoid circumstances that could increase the risk of transmission or, if necessary, result in the closure of the farmers’ market. Printable information posters and sheets to support this communication are available online.
Each vendor stall at a farmers’ market is considered its own place of business; comparable to retail outlets in a shopping center. Any business that is open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic is legally obligated to put measures in place that prevent the spread of infection amongst staff, volunteers and customers. Each vendor is required to review the operation of their stall and take steps to protect workers and customers.
In addition to mandatory measures set out in CMOH Orders, examples of steps that a vendor might take include, but are not limited to:
· Performing frequent hand hygiene
· Creating barriers (e.g., glass or plastic partitions) between clients and workers
· Eliminating food sampling
· Preventing customers from gathering
· Minimizing the handling of money
· Sanitizing electronic keypads after each use
· Asking customers to refrain from handling products and to point out the items they want bagged by staff
· Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks (see the PPE section in Workplace Guidance for Business Owners)
The unique structure of farmers’ markets places a shared responsibility on the market manager and individual vendors/stallholders to ensure compliance with requirements aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 infection. These new requirements are in addition to existing legal requirements that normally apply, such as those set out in the Food Regulation.
Farmers’ markets and vendors/stallholders are not permitted to operate outside of their normal conditions of approval. For example, farmers’ market vendors who are otherwise restricted from offering curbside pickup or home delivery of food products, are still not permitted to sell food in this fashion, unless this activity has been approved by Alberta Health Services.
To protect the health and safety of Albertans, public health orders will be enforced by public health inspectors and law enforcement officials. Any individual, including market managers, vendors, workers, volunteers and customers, within a farmers’ market, found to be in violation of public health orders is subject to a $1,000 penalty. Further, farmers’ market managers and vendors are subject to closure and/or further prosecution if the risk of infection is not being appropriately mitigated.
The guidance and approach set out in this document must also be applied to public markets and other similar settings, even though they are not ‘Alberta approved farmers markets’. Within any market setting, the person in care and control has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that Orders issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health are followed both in the market and in any associated areas supporting the market. This includes the mitigation of risks pertaining to gathering, the touching of surfaces and general sanitation.
Government of Alberta (Alberta Health) - COVID-19 Information for Albertans
Government of Alberta (Alberta Health) – Workplace Guidance for Business owners
Government of Alberta (Alberta Health) - Public Health Orders
Alberta Health Services - COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool