CAMBRIDGE’S market will reopen on Monday 18 January following intensive work by Cambridge City Council and its partners to make it safe for shoppers and traders.
The council has worked with the county council public health team, market trader representatives and event safety specialists to assess the risks and put in place measures to deal with them. The priority is to ensure that the market reopening is well managed and unlikely to lead to a repeat of the crowds that led to its temporary closure.
The council took the decision to temporarily close the market on 1 January following advice from the Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, after an excessive number of people were seen in the city centre, in spite of the Tier 4 stay at home regulations that were in force at the time.
National lockdown measures announced last week mean that people are required to stay at home and to leave home for a very limited number of reasons such as buying food.
The council’s plan to reopen the market has been approved by the Director of Public Health and adopts a phased approach that aligns with the lockdown legislation and guidance and the local risk assessment.
The initial phase of the market reopening plan will see licensed traders who sell fresh food and produce, plants and cycle services return to trade from Monday.
All other licensed traders, including those selling hot food and drink, will not be able to return to trade on the market for the time being, either due to the current national restrictions and/ or because their reopening would attract people to unnecessarily leave their home, come into the city centre and contribute to the risk of unsafe numbers of people gathering and loitering in and around the market area.
Anyone coming to Cambridge market is strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in the market and to do their shopping and then move on quickly to make way for others to do theirs.
Measures to be put in place to protect shoppers and traders include:
- More frequent cleaning of the market area and individual business pitches
- Public asked to shop alone whenever possible and to avoid consuming food and drink in the market
- Extra space between shoppers and individual market stalls
- A no touch policy for products on display
- More signage to aid queuing
- Guidance from marshals who will be on hand to help with enquiries
- A requirement that traders update their risk assessments with the additional coronavirus safety practises and procedure
The reopening plan will be monitored and kept under continuous review and, as soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted, the council, with the support of the Director of Public Health, will work to implement further reopening phases until the market is fully operational again.
Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, said: “I know that everyone will be pleased to see the market open again because it is at the heart of our city centre providing valued goods and services.
“We have worked closely our public health partners to put in place measures that will make the market as safe as possible. This has taken careful planning and consultation because as we have said consistently, keeping Cambridge safe is and will always be our priority.
“Although people feel safer shopping outdoors, it is not risk free, particularly with the more transmissible new variant of the virus that is in circulation.
“Earlier this week, the Chief Medical Officer said on BBC Radio Four that we are not yet at the peak of this second wave and he referred directly to the risks for people being huddled together or queuing at outdoor markets specifically.
“I know this has been a very difficult time for traders, particularly because we had to take an urgent decision at short notice. We will continue to support our market traders, including providing those unable to trade due to the lockdown restrictions with a rental fee waiver until at least 31 March 2021 and we will make sure they have the chance to apply for business and community support packages offered by the government.
“Given the fact we are in lockdown, I would ask people coming to the market to do their shopping promptly and then make space for others to do theirs. We have signage in place to help and our marshals will be on hand to offer help and advice too.”
Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire, said: “COVID-19 infection rates were rising rapidly in December, including in Cambridge city and with the new variant it is more likely that people will catch the infection.
“We’ve assessed the latest data, which is now showing that infection rates - while still high - are beginning to stabilise and with the city council’s new Covid safety measures and plan in place to reduce the attraction for people to visit the city centre for non-essential reasons and pinch points where people crowd together, my view is that the market can safely re-open for a more limited number of stalls, with the controls proposed.
“As we have seen this week from Professor Whitty, although the risk of transmission of the infection is lower outside, it is still there and the risk is increased in areas where there is overcrowding or queuing.
“If we go out for essential reasons it is critical we all continue to keep at least two metres away from anyone we don’t live with and wear a face covering where crowding is possible and in enclosed spaces. It remains essential that we protect our health, the NHS and reduce the pressure on our hospitals by following the ‘stay at home’ advice.”
Traders who have not yet applied for Additional Business Support Grants can do so at:
Full details of what can and can’t be done during the national lockdown are available on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus