Farmers markets can reopen with restrictions

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Farmers markets can reopen this week in Delaware, minus events, and food trucks.

With the assistance of the Delaware Farmers’ Market Coalition, a group of market managers from across the state, the Delaware Department of Agriculture is issuing

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Farmers Market in Milton

rules to help farmers’ markets safely begin opening starting May 15.

The restrictions come as a large portion of Sussex County is affected by an outbreak tied to poultry processing. Farm groups and legislators have been calling for the reopening of farmers’ markets, which remained open in neighboring Maryland.

“We want to make sure that opening the farmers’ markets in Delaware is done in a way that maximizes the safety of market staff, family farmers, and the customers who are looking to purchase produce, specialty crops, and other value-added food items,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We know a lot more about COVID-19 now and the steps we all need to take to prevent the spread of this disease. Farmers’ markets will not be the same social experience as they were prior to COVID-19, but we hope that Delawareans will utilize the markets as a place to purchase locally produced food.”

The protocols issued by DDA will be in place until further notice and are solely intended to allow farmers to sell produce, specialty crops, and other value-added food items that have been directly grown or raised on a farm or prepared in a permitted on-farm kitchen or cottage-food kitchen. Individual farmers’ markets may choose to implement more specific and stringent standards but must at a minimum follow the issued protocols in order to operate and remain open.

Under the rules, no social gatherings, no entertainment shows or activities, no food trucks or prepared food for consumption on-site, no on-site food preparation or sampling, no demonstrations, and no pets allowed, except for service animals.

Depending on the farmers’ market, they may operate a walk-through market or a drive-through market. All customers will be required to wear face coverings, or they will be denied entrance. A maximum of two people per household will be allowed to enter the market to shop. Upon arrival, customers will check-in at the entrance with market staff. If the market is at capacity, the customer will be given instructions on how they will be notified when they can go into shop.

Progress through the farmers’ market will only be in one direction, similar to policies in grocery stores. All marketgoers will be required to enter through a specific entrance and will all leave out a designated exit, there will be no doubling back to shop at a vendor.

Market staff, vendors, and customers will need to social distance, maintaining six feet distance from all others while inside the market area. In order to reduce shopping time, vendors will not have their product available where people can touch or handle product. Customers will need to request items that they want to purchase, and the farmer will package for purchase.

More information regarding the protocols for opening Delaware farmers’ markets can be found athttps://de.gov/buylocal.

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