Because farmers’ markets are considered an essential service, they are open and following the BC CDC’s recommended health guidelinesHowever, things will likely look a little different from what you remember.  

Today, we’re sharing what you can expect to see if you’re going to a farmers’ market, and what you can do to prepare for a safe and successful outing.  

What to expect: 

In order to keep you safe, you can expect to see any of the following precautions in place: 

Physical distancing measures: 

  • Entrance/Exit points may be controlled to make sure that the number of customers in the farmers’ market supports physical distancing. 
  • This may mean you have to wait in a line (each group separated by two metres) to get into the market. 
  • You can expect to see arrows (probably in tape or chalk) that will direct the flow of traffic in the farmer’s market. 
  • There may be more distance between booths, and other markers like ropes or barriers may be present to cordon off areas where physical distancing isn’t possible. 
  • Seating will be more spaced out and also be set up to accommodate a maximum of six people so physical distancing can be maintained. 
  • Expect to see lots of signs reminding you to physically distance. You might see signs for proper line etiquette, and reminders to make sure your group is at least two metres away from other groups.
  • Hand-washing or hand sanitizer stations will be accessible (for both vendors and customers). 

Other changes: 

  • Vendors must dispense all food products 
  • There will be no food or drink sampling. 
  • Live music and demonstrations are most likely cancelled to discourage crowd gathering. 
  • You may see pickup points in the farmers market (this might look like a drive-through pickup).  

What you can expect to see for sale:  

  • Fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs 
  • Frozen, pre-packaged meats and frozen ready-to-eat pre-packaged foods 
  • Some home prepared foods that have been identified as low risk. You can find foods that qualify under Appendix I of the Temporary Food Markets Guideline. 
  • Foods you can expect not to see (unless they have been prepared in an approved facility) are listed in Appendix II 
  • Pre-packaged non-alcoholic beverages 
  • Liquor only in sealed retail containers (like bottles and cans) 
  • Take-away meals from food carts and trucks 
  • Edible plants and seedlings 
  • Non-food items such as soaps, candles, clothing, etc.  

What you can do to prepare:  

  • If you are ill, stay home. This is true whether you are a customer or a vendor.  
  • If the market has a website or social media channels, check them ahead of time for updates (there may be changes to opening hours and location to facilitate social distancing)  
  • Be prepared to wait for entry. It might reduce your wait if you attend in off-peak hours. 
  • Wear a non-medical mask if maintaining a consistent 2 metre distance from others isn’t possible.  
  • Leave your reusable containers at home. Right now, to stop the transmission of disease, stalls cannot accept personal containers  
  • Prepare for touchless forms of payment. While cash can still be used, many vendors may be making tap payments or online ordering available. 
  • Also, see if your farmers’ market has an online order option. If they do, you can pay ahead of time and make use of pick-up points which can limit contact with others.  
  • Give yourself some extra time. As everyone adjusts to these guidelines things may go a little slower than usual. Know that everyone is doing their best. Having ample time can provide some peace of mind and reduce frustrations. 
  • Also, read up on our COVID-19 related blog posts including ones on food safetyhand sanitizer and handling money. You can find even more useful COVID-19 resources below.  

We hope this information is helpful to you. If you’re looking for more information on how farmers’ markets are being run during this time, you can find more information in the Temporary Food Markets Guideline put out by the BC CDC.  

This is an evolving situation and information is changing all the time, so go to the source for updated information. 

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Look through all of our COVID-19 related information on our website.     

Where do we fit in?

Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.  

About Consumer Protection BC:

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.