Farmers markets in Los Angeles have been ordered to close after several were inundated over the weekend with shoppers who didn’t abide by social distancing guidelines.
The temporary suspension, announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday, includes all farmers markets within city limits, such as those in Hollywood and Brentwood. Markets that wish to continue operating are required to submit a plan to ensure proper social distancing among customers; if approved, the market will be allowed to reopen.
“We want people to get access to food, but we can’t risk the spread of this disease,” Garcetti said during a news conference.
Those in nearby cities can set their own rules, though. On Monday evening, organizers for farmers markets in Santa Monica, Pasadena, Culver City and Torrance vowed to remain open.
Santa Monica farmers markets supervisor Jaclyn Rivera-Krouse said “we have a good plan in place” for markets taking place on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. “I will attempt to implement a one-entrance, one-exit approach on Wednesday.”
Gretchen Sterling, manager of the Pasadena farmers market, said the market will be open on Tuesday and plans to be open on Saturday as well.
“Pasadena looks at the guidelines from L.A. County, but they have their own process,” she said. The Tuesday market is “small and sparsely populated anyway,” and she plans to “try to implement a one-entrance plan on Saturday. I may have more than one exit.”
Cynthia Ojeda, who manages the Tuesday afternoon market in Culver City, said she spent the last two weeks working on new measures for the market that will go in place this week.
“We’ve secured the perimeter in our plans,” she said. “We’ll have one entrance and one exit on opposite sides of the market. We’ll be open tomorrow, same location and time. We’ve been working very hard to get this market open. I feel 100% confident as long as the public follows our instructions.”
Meanwhile, the Torrance farmers market, which closed for a week to reassess its guidelines, will return Tuesday. Market manager Joyce Chan said entry to the market and lines inside it will be carefully controlled; hand-washing stations will be set up; and about 55 food vendors have been removed.
The market “will announce to customers over loudspeaker to social distance and shop quickly every 10 minutes, and spread farmers 10 feet apart. Still day to day,” Chan said in an email.
Despite the closure of many businesses in Los Angeles County as part of shelter-in-place restrictions, farmers markets had been permitted to stay open because they were deemed essential. Many put up signs in recent weeks advising customers to keep a safe distance from one another, encouraged shoppers to use contactless payment methods and implemented other measures to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.