After being deemed an essential service by the province, Covent Garden Market is ready to reopen its doors as a grocery store to service Londoners in the downtown core.
The market initially closed on March 18 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a statement on their Facebook page, stated it would reopen on Wednesday.
“We have decided to open to satisfy the needs of many of our customers who live in the downtown who have nowhere to buy groceries.”
Usher said there are some ‘drastic changes’ to the market, including removing all seating and changing to takeout options only.
To keep people safe, the market will have a security guard screening people before they go in and keeping track of numbers to control crowds.
“It’s exactly the same as what a grocery store is doing today.”
Usher adds that vendors who feel unsafe are under no obligation to open and are not being charged rent for the month of April.
In addition to the other changes, Covent Garden will be sanitizing its washrooms multiple times a day during operation in addition to the deep clean the market received in the lead-up to opening day.
But not all the vendors are on board with the decision.
“Frankly, I believe it’s too soon, too early, not safe,” said Chris Lyons, owner of Country Cuts located inside Covent Garden Market.
Given the number of cases and the close proximity of everything in the Market, Lyons fears what will happen if the market opens too soon.
“It’s not an environment for me, my family, our employees, or their families for that matter,” he said. “It only takes one guy walking in, not knowing that he has got to infect a lot of people.”
Since the market closed, Country Cuts has been offering curbside pickup and free porch deliveries for customers who fill out an online order form.
“At the moment, I don’t have payroll to make, so I don’t have to make as many sales as I did so we will survive and will be here when this is all over.”
Lyons said if it is safe to open, he wants to open but will continue doing online orders until they have more information.
Usher, meanwhile, is reassuring customers and vendors by having the Middlesex-London Health Unit and a health inspector asses the building before it open, adding that because of the step they have taken, he does not force any delays.
The market will be open for takeout from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and closed Sunday for cleaning.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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