Here's how farmers' markets will be operating differently in Toronto

Jun 12 2020, 1:23 pm

As warm days settle into the regular weather pattern and fresh fruits and vegetables become more abundant, Toronto Public Health has released new guidelines for farmers’ markets.

The rules outlined by the City apply to both farmers’ markets and fresh food markets, and are meant to help organizers, staff, and vendors reduce the spread of COVID-19.

These new measures will help to keep both staff and visitors safe, while Torontonians get to enjoy the bounty of delicious food and products that these warm months offer.

For those looking forward to visiting some of the city’s farmers’ markets once they begin to operate again, here’s some of what you’re likely to see implemented, based on public health recommendations:

Market staff and vendor screenings

  • It is strongly recommended that market organizers have market staff and vendors complete a health screening questionnaire before each work shift and prior to participating in markets

Attendance policies for market staff and vendors

  • Maintain a list of the names and contact information of market staff and vendors
  • Ensure sick staff/vendors do not attend the farmers’ market
  • If a staff/vendor becomes sick with coronavirus symptoms while attending the market, they should go home immediately and self-isolate
  • Staff/vendors experiencing symptoms can call Telehealth, their health care provider or an assessment centre for testing
  • Staff/vendors who have travelled anywhere outside of Canada must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days after returning to Canada

Measures to maintain physical distancing

  • Single entry and exit point to control the number of customers entering the market
    • Signage at the entrance welcoming customers and indicating the conditions for entry
  • Monitor and manage customer lines
  • Limit the number of customers permitted into the market at any given time
  • Encourage physical distancing between customers attending the market
  • Arrange and modify vendors booths to maintain physical distancing and reduce contact
  • Support vendors that are providing online and/or telephone ordering services
  • Stagger load in and load out times, and designate locations for vendor areas prior to market opening

Hand hygiene

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations for customer use
  • Designated washroom facilities for market staff and vendors/employee use only

Increase communication with customers and vendors

  • Coronavirus preparations and market expectations communicated to all vendors prior to attending the market
  • Information provided to customers about market operations (e.g. public health measures, advance order options, curbside pickup) through different communication platforms (e.g. market webpage, email social media accounts)

Proper glove use

  • Glove use is not mandatory and gloves are not a substitute for proper hand hygiene
  • If vendors/employees use gloves they should be changed every hour, or more often as necessary
  • Hands should be washed with soap and water for 15 seconds before putting on and after taking off gloves
  • Change gloves when changing tasks, after touching your face, or coming in contact with an item that may have germs
  • When gloves are removed, new gloves must be used each time

Measures to protect food from contamination

  • Prepackaged foods offered for sale to reduce handling and direct contact
  • Keep food out of the customer’s reach to discourage handling
  • Do not provide samples
  • Do not handle reusable containers/bags supplied by the customer
  • Suspend accepting product returns
  • Encourage customers to take their purchased foods home and wash thoroughly before eating

Proper use of cloth and non-medical face masks

  • Non-medical/cloth masks are strongly recommended when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Masks do not replace the need for physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick

To learn more about the above recommendations, and review the list of guidelines in full, click here.

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