Homer’s annual Farmers Market inched ahead this summer with a cautious reopening amid the ongoing social distancing caused by the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
Most business entities and other aspects of society in Alaska have been allowed to reopen with health and social distancing suggestions, as opposed to mandates, but people are still being encouraged by state officials to keep their distance from others and wear a face covering when that’s not possible.
To help facilitate that while still connecting locals to fresh produce and goods, the Homer Farmers Market opened for the season on Saturday with the first hour reserved for the elderly and those with health issues, with the entire middle row of vendor booths eliminated and without the traditional market coins in place of cash that people are used to seeing.
All this was to promote spacing people out and limiting person-to-person contact during transactions, Robbi Mixon, local food director with the Alaska Farmers Market Associated, told the Homer News in a previous interview.
The parking lot and market itself were far less crowded on Saturday than the usual scene that overtakes Ocean Drive from late morning into the afternoon. Most people wore face coverings, and those who forgot theirs were offered one at the gate by volunteers.
In a Facebook post following the opening day, the Homer Farmers Market announced face coverings will now be mandatory for customers going forward.
“Reassessing after the first market, and in response to the growing cases on the Kenai Peninsula, the board has decided to make face coverings mandatory for all market attendees,” the announcement reads. “We hope this will help further lower risks for all attendees, including our elders and immune-compromised patrons.”
Food and beverage consumption on site at the market will be discouraged. Customers are asked to send one family member to shop for the whole, when possible.