SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Sarasota Farmers Market is a staple in downtown Sarasota. Rain or shine, it’s open year-round… That’s, of course, until the coronavirus pandemic hit our area.
The outdoor market closed back in March and is set to reopen Aug. 1. 50 out of 70 vendors are expected to be a part of the first weekend back.
Organizers have been working for months on ways to ensure a safe outdoor environment.
“At first, there was really no light at the end of the tunnel, but we wanted to start preparing for it when we found out that there was going to be such a thing. Of course, as we started inching closer, we have had to change things and kind of be malleable to the new circumstances. What was acceptable two months ago would not be acceptable now for example,” said Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sarasota Farmers Market, Travis Kinsey.
Organizers behind the local farmers market have set up multiple safety protocols to keep vendors and shoppers safe.
The footprint of the downtown market will be larger than ever before to allow for 10-15 feet between vendors. The Sarasota Farmers Market will cover Lemon Ave., State St, and First St.
Barricades will be set up in the middle of each roadway to keep foot traffic moving in one direction on each side. There will be four to six sanitizing stations, plus sanitizer at every tent. There will also be signage posted reminding people masks are mandatory.
There’s even a code of conduct for people who choose to come out.
Vendors are excited to get back up and running this weekend, but some locals aren’t so sure about the timing. Florida hit record-breaking death rates for COVID-19 four days in a row this week.
Sharon Burde loves going to the Sarasota Farmers Market. She wants to see the market open, but only if it does so in a safe way.
“I have no problem with opening up as long as people wear masks and distance because I think to deny that there’s a possibility of transmission is just silly, it doesn’t help anybody. We all want to open up, but I want to open up safely so that I can feel secure at the farmers market,” said Burde.
Mary Fuerst says she wants to go back to the farmers market, but wants to make sure everyone is following the rules before she ventures out.
“I think it will be fun to have them back. I am going to skip this week and see what happens when I read my social media because they are really good about using Facebook.,” said Fuerst.
Kinsey says he understands the concerns coming from locals.
“Of course we are doing everything that we can to make sure that everybody stays safe. There’s always are going to be that demographic that is still concerned and probably concerned enough not to come out and be a part of the farmers market. We as an organization totally understand that and we can only hope that this coronavirus sooner than later gets under control to where people are more comfortable coming out and enjoying the farmers market,” said Kinsey.
The market will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Free masks will be handed out to those who don’t have one. City staff will also be out reminding and educating people of the city-wide mask mandate.
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