Farmers market season is back, but physical distance is still required

Farmers markets are great opportunities to purchase fresh, healthy, and locally grown foods.

They also tend to draw crowds.

Farmers markets, and other places that sell food products, like grocery stores, are considered essential businesses under the statewide Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

Throughout Washington State, more farmers markets may continue to open throughout the season. Market associations are taking steps to ensure the safety of shoppers, but there are also steps we can take to protect ourselves and our communities at farmers markets.

Follow guidance at the market

Farmers markets that are open are following guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among its vendors and consumers. Please follow these new instructions, which may include bagging your own items in reusable shopping bags, using designated entrances and exits, and utilizing hand wash stations.

Only stay as long as necessary

Shopping at farmers markets should be considered the same as shopping at a grocery store. If possible, come with a plan, shop solo, and only stay for as long as is necessary to purchase essential items. Avoid meandering and socializing with friends or family. Some farmers markets are offering car pick-ups to further minimize the risk of transmission.

Wear a mask

The CDC recommends that everybody wear cloth face coverings in public. This may help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus when infected people cough, sneeze, or even talk. Learn more about why masks are recommended and how to safely wear one in our earlier post.

Stay physically distant from others

Just like trips to the grocery store, give others 6 feet of space at farmers markets. When you’re standing in line or walking from vendor to vendor, leave 2 arm’s lengths between other people. Market vendors’ booths will be further apart than usual, but please be aware of your surroundings and give other people space to the best of your ability.

Minimize money handling

Whenever possible, use credit cards, contactless payment methods, or exact change to prevent the exchange of currency. You may be able to pre-order or pre-pay at some markets. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Fresh Bucks, and equivalent programs will still be available. Markets have been recommended to disinfect tokens before distribution.

Support local farmers

There are other ways to support the local food system in Seattle and King County. You can purchase flowers and bouquets, order products online, or donate to funds that support farmers during crises. Learn more at The King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks also put together a website with resources for farmers.

Continue following Public Health guidelines

Before leaving your house (for any essential activity), notice how you feel. If you’re feverish, have a new cough, shortness of breath or any other symptom that has been associated with COVID-19, stay home. When you do leave home, practice good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

Farmers markets are a favorite in Seattle and King County, but this year they will look a little different.

While some are returning, others remain closed to prevent large gatherings and slow the spread of COVID-19. Those that do open will have modified layouts, limited market entrances, and no live music or demos.

Market associations and organizers are working closely with public health agencies to ensure the health and safety of shoppers while providing an essential service; we need to do the same in return and take care when shopping at farmers markets.