While most businesses are forced to remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Montreal’s public markets have reopened.
Deemed an essential service, local vendors returned to the markets on Thursday.
New safety measures have been put in place according to strict government guidelines.
Fences now line the perimeter, limiting access to only a few entrances. Only a select number of shoppers will be allowed to enter the site at one time and security teams will be patrolling to enforce physical-distancing measures. Handwashing is also mandatory upon entering and exiting the premise.
“We are controlling the density inside the zone to make sure we keep that safe social distance,” said Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, the Marché Public interim executive director.
Local merchants have adapted their long-standing stalls, transforming them to fit the new safety regulations.
Plexiglas barriers for kiosks are mandatory.
“We have had to get creative,” local farmer and Atwater Market merchant Fernand Théorêt said.
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The Théorêt family has created a buffer between them and their clients, installing a large plastic sheet in front of their fruit display.
“In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Théorêt said.
Shoppers will no longer be able to touch the produce, only choosing from afar.
Usually in the market cash is king, but officials are encouraging vendors to use digital payment methods.
“That is new ways of doing business at the market adapting in this new time,” Fabien-Ouellet said.
To reduce the number of people in the market at one time, shoppers are asked to come alone and to shop in the morning, when it is quiet.
People are also encouraged to bring a list with them to avoid any unnecessary browsing.
“We want people to feel safe and for people to come shop and leave,” Fabien-Ouellet said.
“It’s challenging for us, it’s challenging for vendors, but everybody is pitching in and it’s coming out well.”
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