COVID-19 Updates

Update: September 4, 2020

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: VFM September Safety Strategy

 

At this time we continue to remain open during the COVID-19 crisis as an access point for fresh food, with the full authorization of both municipal and provincial officials. We were heartened to learn that the BC Ministry for Public Safety has designated farmers markets an essential service during the COVID-19 crisis. We are committed to staying open as an essential service in the same manner as grocery stores as long as it is deemed safe to do so by the BC Centre for Disease Control.

We want you to know that markets will look dramatically different this year. We are in regular communication with public health officials, and have implemented the below modifications to comply with health and safety recommendations. (http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/community-settings/farmers-markets)

As things continue to evolve quickly, we will endeavour to update you as soon as possible with information on COVID-19 and Vancouver Farmers Markets.

LIMITING SHOPPER ATTENDANCE TO ENSURE SAFE SPACING: 

Summer markets are currently operating with gaps after every 8th stall (at least) as recommended by Vancouver Fire Department. Each market will have a maximum shopper capacity calculated based on the midway space and allowing shoppers to have a minimum of 5 square metres each. Regardless of the numbers, VFM staff will only allow shoppers into market sites if physical distancing is observed. Please spread the Shop! Don’t Stop message. We know you want to catch up with your customers but at this time, we need to get people through the market quickly.

FURTHER MEASURES IN PLACE: 

  • VFM staff and volunteers will wear face shields and masks where appropriate
  • Minimize entry and exit points to control the number of shoppers.
  • Manage line-ups into the market to meet physical distancing requirements.
  • No dogs will be allowed in the market areas to allow for more physical space
  • Managing stalls who get line-ups in the markets. Expect your stall assignment to change week to week as we try to minimize lineups
  • Removed gathering areas (seating areas and buskers, etc.)
  • We will not be operating an information booth. All staff will be stationed at entrance / exit points
  • We will have at least one hand-washing station in each market and one hand sanitizer at market entrances 
  • Directional signs and will be posted and chalk markings drawn, highlighting entrance and exit points
  • We will be posting multiple signs encouraging shoppers to do the following: 
    • Keep a safe 6-foot distance from others
    • Shop, Don’t Stop
    • Safe hand-washing practice 
  • VFM will offer a dedicated shopping window for seniors, shoppers with mobility challenges, and others most vulnerable to Covid-19 at all market sites this summer.

WE ASK THAT YOU, THE VENDORS, MAKE THE FOLLOWING MODIFICATIONS: 

  1. Got Symptoms? Don’t Come

    • Any vendors that are sick with respiratory illness symptoms, gastrointestinal illness symptoms, or even mild symptoms of illness associated with COVID-19 must not be present at the farmers market and/or must leave the market immediately. The online COVID-19 self-assessment tool can be used to know when to seek healthcare and further information can be found on the BCCDC website. Contact Vancouver Coastal Health at 604-675-3900 for further guidance.
    • Any foods that may have been contaminated by a food handler or staff member with respiratory illness symptoms, gastrointestinal illness symptoms, or even mild symptoms of illness associated with COVID-19 must not be brought to the farmers market and offered for sale.
  2. Keep Physical Distance (you and shoppers!)

    • See COVID-19 Vendor Checklist for Physical Distance requirements including:
        • Use physical barrier to keep distance from shoppers
        • Post and manage maximum capacity in walk-through stalls 
        • Manage shopper physical distancing within 10ft radius of stall
        • Wear face covering at stall when not behind a physical barrier (i.e. restocking, managing shopper capacity, etc).
    • There are different requirements for walk-through and non walk-through stalls
    • Unless otherwise approved by VFM manager, maximum shopper capacity per 10×10 tent = 1 shopper
  3. Wash Hands

    • All vendors must have a wash station or hand sanitizer for vendor use
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Using soap and water is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of infection.
    • Consider a person who handles payment cards only and another who handles food product
    • Please see this cash handing document for best practices.
  4. Sanitize Surfaces

    • All vendors must have their own sanitizing solution for wiping surfaces
    • Tablecloths, if used, must be wipeable (If you want a cloth tablecloth, consider laying a plastic sheet on top that can be wiped with sanitizer)
    • Sanitize all high-touch surfaces frequently, including sales equipment and point of sale devices
    • Use care when handling credit cards and allow shoppers to avoid touching mobile sales screen (sanitize these touch points often)
    • You are encouraged to have hand sanitizer for you and shoppers that visit your stalls
  5. Ensure Shoppers Eat Outside Market

    • NOTE: Vendors are permitted to eat inside the market but should know that doing so may cause fellow vendor or shopper discomfort
    • Market vendors selling ready-to-eat foods must package foods into take-away containers or brown bags and post signs advising customers to not eat foods in the markets in order to comply with physical distancing requirements.
      • Vendors are encouraged to pre-package prepared foods to minimize direct contact by customers
      • Prepared foods (i.e. bakery items for e.g., breads, muffins) that are not pre-packaged foods at the time of sale must be protected by a barrier (i.e. sneeze guard) or stored away from customer access. Vendors will package the product at time of sale.
      • Clients of farmers’ markets must not use their own containers; vendors must dispense all food products
    • No sampling of foods or beverages at the farmers markets.
    • Food Trucks must make all items take away
      • Make sure you post a sign indicating this

Bonus items for increasing sales: 

  1. Limit Interactions 

    • Try to be as efficient as possible with customers so we can get more customers through in our limited hours
  2. Convert $20 shoppers into $50 shoppers

    • People coming to farmers markets right now are spending more money
    • People want to support local businesses
    • Since fewer customers can come through, find out how to get them to spend more with you
  3. Make Connections Online

    • Find ways of connecting with people online instead of at market
  4. Divert Sales Online 

    • Consider using Local Line (VFM Online Store) to allow your shoppers to preorder and make shopping at the market faster for them while still guaranteeing you market sales. Email Robyn for more info.
    • Use VFM Online Orders so shoppers can grab their items quickly

COVID-19 Cancellations + Refunds

VFM has been processing cancellations and refunds a little differently since the COVID-19 crisis, even though our standard policy has come back into effect as of April. The following are a list of steps we’ve been taking to be as responsive as possible for our vendor community in this time:

March Cancellations: 

– for those made after March 15, 100% refund granted if vendor was not permitted to attend; 50% granted if vendor chose not to attend, no questions asked

– refunds processed and issued mid-April rather than June

April Cancellations: 

– vendors who appealed via email or COVID-19 Vendor Survey may have had a special consideration refund issued and note put on their invoice

– refunds processed and issued early May rather than June

May + Full Season Cancellations: 

– refunds are being processed in June as per our standard schedule

– exceptions to standard policy are being considered on a case by case basis

Craft, Flower + Knock-down vendors

– post-dated cheques were not being deposited while their attendance status was unknown – 100% refunds issued or cheques withheld from deposit, where applicable, for March and April dates

Other Changes & Resources

As our staff resources have shifted, we no longer have a market information tent and some of our regular activities have been moved online. 

  • We no longer are handing out green vendor sales slips. Please email your gross sales to: reports@eatlocal.org within 48 hours of the market. 
  • If you have an outstanding invoice, we ask that you take advantage of e-transfers or Vancity member to member transfers. Please email christa@eatlocal.org for more info.

Keep your business operating safe during the pandemic by implementing important WorkSafe BC protocols – https://www.worksafebc.com/

The BCAFM has put together an extensive list of resources available for farmers and small businesses. https://bcfarmersmarket.org/bcafm-update-on-covid-19/

Please note that the status of our market operations can change at any time. We reserve the right to alter and/or close markets at any time if we feel that correct safety and physical distancing protocols cannot be met. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation with our municipal & provincial partners and provide updates as soon as we can.

Thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation during this time.