D.C. Mayor Shuts Down ‘Non-Essential’ Farmers, Fish Markets; ‘Essential’ Liquor, Pot Stores Open

Farmers Market in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced this week that farmers’ and fish markets are now on the list of  “non-essential” businesses and must shut down operations.

This includes the Eastern Market farmers market, which has been in “continuous operation since 1873 — until the coronavirus. 

The plan took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

The businesses that remain open after being deemed “essential” include liquor stores, medical marijuana dispensaries, food dispensers, and healthcare facilities.

Farmers and fish markets cannot operate unless a waiver plan is submitted and approved, the Mayor’s plan states. The plan should include only selling already bagged and priced items; “limit the number of counters and booths so that customers are not moving between vendors;” and provide a way for customers to order by phone or online.

And only food, with the exception of soap and hand sanitizer, can be sold at both farmers and fish markets.

D.C. radio station WTOP reported on the mayor’s order:

The move comes after huge crowds gathered at The Wharf’s popular seafood market last weekend, raising concerns about social distancing and the spread of coronavirus in D.C., an emerging hot spot.

Retail food sellers — grocery stores, supermarkets, food halls, food banks, convenience stores and other businesses that sell food — must implement social distancing protocols for the safety of employees and customers.

Bowser’s order also requires stores to limit the number of customers who can enter at a time; to mark paths and make aisles one-way, where possible; to provide hand sanitizers or disinfecting wipes; to make sure that social distancing can be maintained at checkout counters; to ask customers to fill their own bags, if they are able; and to regularly disinfect items and areas that get touched often.

The WTOP article notes that by April 20, check out stations at grocery stores that serve 50 customers or more must install glass or plastic barriers between shoppers and employees.

Those who want to support Eastern Market vendors can find out how to do that on its website.

As of Thursday there were 1,660 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland; 38 deaths have been reported, and 426 people have recovered.

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