COVID-19 GUIDANCE FOR FARMERS MARKETS

We believe that farmers markets provide vital food access services to our community.

Under the Governor’s Health Mandates, Farmers Markets, like grocery stores and supermarkets, are considered “essential businesses.” To help market operators adapt to this rapidly changing economic and public health situation, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Alaska Farmers Market Association have compiled information and recommendations from farmers markets, state associations, health departments and the Centers for Disease Control.

Printable Resources

Farmers Markets COVID-19 awareness steps for markets and market managers (PDF)

Shop Safely social distance flyer (PDF)

farmers markets safety best practices

Provided courtesy of Alaska Farmland Trust

Our farmers markets are vibrant community spaces where many shoppers gather to socialize in addition to purchasing groceries. However, for the time being, we ask shoppers to prioritize essential food purchasing and eliminate social gatherings at the market.

Currently, no evidence exists that food is a source or transmission route for the virus. To keep our farmers, producers, and shoppers safe, we encourage the following actions at Alaska’s markets.

Measures for the market as a whole

  • If a vendor is sick or has been exposed to (or suspects they have been exposed to) COVID-19, they may not attend the market. Require vendors and customers to take note if they are experiencing symptoms such as fever or dry cough, and stay home to take care of themselves and protect others if they are sick. Provide signage at both the market and vendor entrances as a reminder of this requirement.
  • Farmers Markets should primarily be for food, potted plants, and flower sales only. Food/produce vendors and ready-made food should be carry-out only. Prepared foods should be in an enclosed container so the customers take the food to eat off-site.
  • No sampling of products is allowed at the market.
  • Market managers should disinfect commonly used services, such as the market information table, EBT redemption devices (phones, card swipers), and have hand-sanitizer available.
  • Customers and vendors should follow the CDC recommendation regarding the use of face coverings.
  • Encourage one person to shop for the family or household. This can be done through social media messaging.
  • Markets should send an email/post on social media before the market starts informing customers of the new guidelines and asking individuals who are sick to stay home.
  • Customers should practice “social distancing” – maintaining a space of about six feet from each other – and markets should inform customers of this policy as they enter the market; have signage, and volunteers, if possible, spread throughout the market reminding customers of the practice.
  • Consider reserving the first half-hour of the market (11-11:30) for persons over the age of 60 and customers with medical conditions
  • Market managers should temporarily redesign market locations to limit contact and still allow people to purchase from vendors.
  • The space between vendors should be increased to alllow proper social distancing between vendors, customers, and market staff. This will reduce crowding.
  • To create space between the vendor and customers, consider plexiglass barriers or placing a table in front of the table where vendors stand to keep customers at least 6 feet away from vendors at all times. Tape or chalk can be sued on the ground or flooring to mark 6-foot distances.

Measures to be taken by each vendor

  • Whenever possible, try to set up vendor tables to limit product handling. Vendors may consider creating signage on how to communicate expectations for customer interaction.
  • No shared condiments. Instead, provide these items at consumer requests in individual portion-sized containers. Utensils, straws, etc., would be best provided wrapped and only at the consumers request.
  • Vendors are asked not to use cloth tablecloths to make it easier to sanitize surfaces; or, if using a tablecloth, to lay a sheet of plastic over the top of vendor tables or cloth tablecloths which can be disinfected.
  • Vendors should be encouraged to have one person handle money and another to handle product.
  • Vendors are encouraged to explore touchless payment options; or if customers are using cash, cards or coins encourage the use of exact change, if possible.
  • Vendors handling money should not touch food products until they have washed their hands.
  • Vendors should set up and use temporary handwashing stations at their booths.
  • Handwashing stations or hand-sanitizing stations should be available throughout the market, at market manager tables, vendor tables and also in other locations throughout market.
  • If possible, vendors should pre-package or pre-bag produce to reduce product handling.

The COVID-19 virus is thought to be spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and by people who may not yet be showing symptoms. If you are an at-risk population (particularly older adults or immunocompromised individuals) we encourage you to prioritize your own health and minimize your exposure to large groups of people. Consider asking a friend or family member to pick up your market items for you.

As the situation changes we will be adapting the recommendations per the Governor’s Office, CDC and FDA Guidance.

Proper Cleaning Protocol

Vendors must clean and sanitize their supplies and equipment regularly.

For surfaces in contact with food or food products (produce bins, coolers, boxes, tools), use food-safe detergents and sanitizing solutions

  1. Clean the surface with a detergent (for example, Dawn dish detergent) and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Use a sanitizer product approved for use on food contact surfaces. Cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces
  3. Check the label and make sure the cleaning product is safe to use on food contact surfaces. Follow the label instructions for the product you use when mixing, applying, and storing it. Some products require contact time on the surface to be effective, and others require a rinse step.
  4. Allow the surface to air dry.

For surfaces not to come into contact with food or food products (such as chairs, tables, truck beds)

  1. Clean the surface with a detergent (for example, Dawn dish detergent) and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Use EPA-approved products for use against viruses and other emerging pathogens
  3. Follow the label instructions for the disinfectant you use when mixing, applying, and storing it. Some disinfectants require contact time on the surface to be effective, and others require a rinse step.
  4. Allow the surface to air dry. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and sanitizing

Other Resources

Please take good care of yourselves, your family and friends, and your communities as we all navigate this immense challenge together.