Covid-19 update


Update on COVID-19 Dear BCAFM Member Markets,BCAFM will continue to monitor COVID-19, and update the membership on this issue related to BCAFM member farmers' markets operating across BC. We also encourage markets to be proactive and monitor this issue independently.As always, maintaining the health and safety of market organizers, vendors and shoppers needs to be a top priority for all of us.BCAFM ContextAs our markets operate exclusively in BC and Canada, BCAFM will take cues and guidance on COVID-19 from the most relevant sources including the Province of BC and the Federal Government of Canada.The vast majority of BCAFM member markets will launch the 2020 season beginning this May onwards, however there are number of markets currently operating today during the shoulder season. Things are shifting day by day and we all need to be proactive now and prepare for what could be a more challenging farmers market season.IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOWBC Farmers' Markets are first and foremost food retail establishments and a place to purchase food. They are NOT social events. At your markets, focus on the 'need' to haves rather than the 'nice' to haves at the market during this time.BC Ministry of Health Joint Statement March 12th, 2020 @ 6:58 pm:"Effective today, we also directing all event organizers to cancel any gathering larger than 250 people. This includes indoor and outdoor sporting events, conferences, meetings, religious gatherings or other similar events. This threshold has been selected, as it is much easier to maintain important social distancing to prevent transmission of COVID-19."As noted by BCAFM above, BCAFM does not consider Farmers' markets events.For comparison and very important to note: As food and retail establishments, farmers markets to date are not included in the ban on large gatherings of 250+ in the state of Washington.British Columbians across the province need food to eat. Farmers' markets are essential retail outlets for BC residents to access food, now more than ever, as conventional grocery store supply chains may be disrupted by impacts from COVID-19.BC Farmers' Market operators and vendors currently operate using FoodSafe and MarketSafe best practices, as prescribed by provincial health authorities.The majority of our farmers' markets operate outdoors.The volume of customers attending a market to purchase food is staggered throughout your operating hours.BE PROACTIVE: THINGS TO DOBe proactive and start to communicate with your local Health Authority and Municipality/Regional District NOW to let them know the actions your market is taking to ensure health and wellness. Be sure to remind them about the market's role as a critical food access retail outlet for local residents to purchase food while ensuring local farmer livelihoods and reducing food and crop losses. It is important they understand farmers' markets provide retail access to food and are not events. This is especially important as conventional food and grocery supply chains may be disrupted and local farmers' markets play an important role to fill the gap.Ensure your market has visible and public handwashing stations with soap and make sure these are refilled regularly. Consider adding more handwashing stations as well.Post handwashing posters and appropriate public health information where appropriate at your market. See link below for a COVID-19 handwashing poster produced by the province of BC.While COVID-19 persists, consider eliminating food samplings, cooking demonstrations, social activities, and any unnecessary special events at the market.Make disposable gloves readily available as an option to vendors and market organizers who handle money.Consider innovations at your market  and work with vendors to reduce foot traffic at the market such as ordering online or on the phone in advance and inviting customers to pick up at the market. Allow for pre-ordered items to be picked up at the usual market times or other alternative distribution methods.Communicate to market staff, volunteers and vendors that if they are not feeling well to stay home and not attend the market, without penalty including waiving fees for that day.Invite vendors to consider different ways of presenting and packaging up food for the time being to reduce unnecessary handling. Even if this is not ideal in terms of sustainable practices. Remember this may be temporary.Increase awareness at the market that everyone, vendors and market organizers, have a role to play ensuring high touch items like credit card readers, touch screens are cleaned regularly.BCAFM Market Member Google GroupIf you have ideas, innovations and things you are doing at your market to share with other market members, please continue to share these on the BCAFM market member google group at bcafm@googlegroups.com and/or send to the BCAFM office info@bcfarmersmarket.org so we can share and learn from each other.IMPORTANT RESOURCESBC Centre for Disease ControlFor more information and latest updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit the centre's website: http://www.bccdc.ca/Province of BCBC COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and planning materials: The BC Pandemic Provincial Co-ordination Plan details the preparations and comprehensive toolkit to respond to the evolving outbreak. This will be an ongoing resource for the province.Province of BC COVID19 Hand Hygiene Poster - download it here.Federal GovernmentFor federal government recommendations on mass gatherings, read more here.OTHER RESOURCESFarmers Market Coalition Responds to COVID-19 (Note: This organization is in the USA)In closing, I want to take a moment to remind all of us about the resiliency of farmers, farmers' markets and the people who make them happen; market organizers, farmers, vendors and volunteers alike. From forest fires and floods, economic downturns and other factors, we always rise to the challenge. Now more than ever, local food, farmers and farmers' markets matter in our communities.Stay resilient,Heather O'HaraBCAFM Executive Director

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