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Business unusual as Coquitlam farmer’s market opens its doors

The Coquitlam Farmer’s Market opens its doors Sunday, May 3, amid a whole new set of rules.
The Coquitlam market follows the opening of the Port Moody Farmers' Market earlier this month.
The Coquitlam market follows the opening of the Port Moody Farmers' Market earlier this month.

For the first time in its 24 year existence, the Coquitlam Farmer’s Market has received the go ahead to open up in the midst of a pandemic. 

Fresh, local food has been a stalwart for the market and that will continue as an essential service. But how customers access that food will be anything but business as usual.

"We are excited to be bringing fresh local food to you, but it is important to all of us to do this safely. The market will look and feel very different when we open," said executive director of Grow Local Tri-Cities Tabitha McLoughlin in a written statement.

Operating as an essential service means the market is not subject to the same 50 person limit on gatherings as some other businesses. But that hasn’t prevented organizers from rolling out a series of measures to prevent close contact and risk transmitting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Like the Port Moody Farmer's Market, which re-opened its doors two weeks ago, the Coquitlam market will be held in the open air, separated into two zones: zone one will be at the Poirier Community Centre parking lot and zone two at the Dogwood Pavilion parking lot.

Both areas will have social distancing measure in place to keep people apart while they shop, and only food vendors will be allowed to sell their products.

Shoppers can expect a separate entry and exit points so everyone travels in the same direction throughout their time at the market. There will be a limit on crowd size, which will be monitored by market staff. Inside, there will be markings to help shoppers gauge the two metre distancing rule, and hand washing stations will be available for everyone who attends.

Other measures include a ban on product sampling and no dogs in the market area. Further, market organizers are asking anyone who is not feeling well to stay home and let someone else shop for you. Debit and credit card transactions are also preferred to prevent the exchange of cash.

The Coquitlam Farmers Market is open every Sunday from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. in the Dogwood Pavilion and Poirier Community Centre parking lots. The market runs from May to October.