Council-run food markets to reopen in Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Brandon, Haverhill and Mildenhall
- Credit: MARIAM GHAEMI
Food markets will restart in west Suffolk from next week after the council agreed strict ways of protecting shoppers and stallholders.
West Suffolk Council said the safety of the public, traders and staff was its primary concern and would review operations at the end of every market session.
MORE: Markets across west Suffolk to closeThe markets were stopped due to a lack of staffing and a need to prioritise other essential Covid-19 responses. However, following careful planning the markets will be re-opened in a phased way with food-only stalls, starting in Newmarket from Tuesday, May 26.
Next to open will be Bury St Edmunds market on Wednesday, May 27, Brandon on Thursday, May 28, and Mildenhall and Haverhill on Friday, May 29.
The initial market held in each of the five towns will be shorter, running from 9am to 2pm.
Every market has a new layout allowing ample space supported by signage for two-metre social distancing whether moving around or queuing.
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Traders will be providing contactless payment where possible, will use hand sanitiser and work with customers to ensure safe queuing. Customers are asked to wash their hands as often as they can, and to keep a safe distance.
Phase two will be to bring back other permitted traders, for example plant stalls, and to review the operating hours. Phase three will be reviewed in light of Government guidance on non-essential retail, expected no earlier than 1 June
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John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: ‘I am very pleased to confirm that initially food-only markets will be open again starting from May 26, albeit with agreed strict measures to ensure this is safe for both the public and stallholders. This could not be happening without assurances in place and I would like to thank our traders for working with us and their help on this.
“The markets will of course be kept under close review but their reinstatement is an important step in the recovery of the town centre and businesses and in anticipation of shops beginning to trade again in early June.
“As part of this recovery, our council is also lobbying government for grant support for our permanent traders, and should that help not be confirmed, will be offering two months without pitch fees, to help them establish their businesses again.
“We would ask shoppers to do their part, keep their distance and continue to follow government guidance in protecting lives and livelihoods.”
Although staffing numbers still remains an issue West Suffolk Council has been working closely with traders to see how some of this burden can be shared.
The council continues to pay business rates on its markets which last year amounted to £65,500, as well as business improvement district levies on this in Bury and Newmarket.