The Dublin farmers' market opened for another season Thursday but it "will look and feel a lot different" than previous years, according to the city of Dublin.
Patrons will notice some changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic that triggered a Bay Area shelter-in-place order last month. Certified farmers markets have been deemed essential by Alameda County public health officials, and extra precautionary measures come with that designation.
Dublin city spokesperson Shari Jackman told the Weekly, "There will be no social or entertainment components to the market, just producers and vendors selling produce or pre-packaged foods. They are complying with all of the strict mandates under the revised order."
A number of additional safeguards will be in place to ensure public safety.
That means the annual concert series is on hold for now but will continue once authorities say it's safe and "certainly after all social distancing requirements have ceased." There also will not be any children's activities, or tables or chairs set up to keep shoppers from lingering. The first half hour of the market will only be accessible for seniors.
There will also be control points to manage the number of people inside the market area, where social distancing will be enforced. Market stalls will be spaced further apart and access to them will be limited to the front. "Wait your turn" chalk lines will be drawn at the stalls to keep shoppers apart, with six feet of distance being required between patrons and vendors.
Producers preparing food must follow strict handwashing procedures and may not use the same hand or glove to touch items for sale and cash from customers. Vendors will be encouraged to pre-bag produce. No sampling of any kind is allowed and hot food will be sold until the pandemic is over.
A customer code of conduct will be posted throughout the market as well as signs featuring a "you touch it, you buy it" reminder.
Jackman said the city will be monitoring the market to ensure that rules are being followed. If vendors or producers are not compliant, or shoppers are violating social distancing requirements, the city has the authority to close the market until the pandemic is over.
The Dublin farmers' market will be held through September every Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at Emerald Glen Park. Following this week's market, however, Jackman said the city will look at pushing it back to the middle of the day "to coincide with other essential travel to the grocery store that residents may need."