West Suffolk Council is actively looking to reopen markets but for essential food stalls and only if strict guidelines can be stuck to for everyone’s safety.
The government guidance allows markets to stay open for essential food and many have been running across the country with strict measures in place.
Markets across West Suffolk had been running under government and health guidance but had to be stopped as COVID-19 reduced staffing levels at the council.
The council is actively talking to market traders and their representatives about looking at measures that could mean the markets, which give people the chance to buy food and social distance, may open again.
But no date will be set until the council can be assured that the necessary measures and processes can be brought in.
The service was paused due to a sudden reduction in staff following the Stay At Home guidance which saw more than 40 waste and street services staff either having to shield themselves as vulnerable or someone in their home. More than 60 staff are also redeployed from across the council to help the most vulnerable in the community get support, medicine and food as well as help businesses.
The council will be looking to put in strict hygiene and social distancing measures as well as how people use the market and access it. The markets will only restart once safety measures can be assured and will be kept under constant review. This will include only essential food stalls and no takeaways, stalls placed apart, contactless payment as well as signs and lines to avoid people getting too close.
John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “West Suffolk is well known for its markets and they play an important role in our local economy as well as providing outlets for local produce. We very much want, and are actively looking, to reinstate them as and when appropriate but I must make it clear that the safety of the public, traders and our staff is paramount and this will not happen unless and until strict guidelines can be met, and kept, to ensure social distancing, good hygiene and safety.
“That said, markets have been operating successfully and safely in some other locations and by working with our traders we believe this can also happen in West Suffolk, even with reduced staffing. Apart from anything else it should give people greater choice of produce and greater space to stay apart and in the future the markets should of course also help with the recovery of other town centre businesses. This will be all be kept under constant review as we move forward.”