Public Safety Protocols for Ontario’s Farmers’ Markets

Updated November 15, 2021

Farmers’ markets, as businesses that primarily sell food, are considered essential workplaces. As such, two models of farmers’ market may operate, with the appropriate approvals, during this time.

The protocols that follow for each model have been developed in consultation with public health officials and must be reviewed and adapted in consultation with the local public health unit to meet each market’s specific operational requirements.

This is not business as usual for markets as social interaction must be limited to maintain physical distancing to ensure the health and safety of vendors and customers. If you have employees, you are required to take every reasonable precaution to protect their health and safety whether they are working indoors or outdoors.

OPTION 1: Protocols for indoor or outdoor market with in-person shopping

Market managers/organizers must ensure:

  1. Their landlord/property owner approves.
  2. They contact their local public health unit (PHU) and present a plan (including a diagram showing a proposed market layout and a complete list of vendors and their products) and review this protocol adapting the plan, as required by the PHU, based on their operation/location.
  3. Food and other approved products, subject to public health approval, can be offered for sale.
  4. The number of customers at any given time is limited to maintain a physical distance of two metres and a sign is posted stating the capacity limit.
  5. Stands are spaced out and customer circulation is monitored or controlled (example: one-way movement) to maintain social distancing.
  6. The FMO COVID-19 Fact/Info Sheet is posted and seen by all vendors and shoppers. 
  7. That masks or face coverings are required to be worn by all customers, vendors and staff at indoor markets. At outdoor markets masks or face coverings are required to be worn by vendors and staff and not by customers.  The only exception is if the vendor is working alone or with family members and they are separated from customers/other vendors by a plexiglass shield or some other impermeable barrier. If there are non-family members working behind a plexiglass shield or other barrier, everyone must wear masks.
  8. The names of all vendors selling are recorded for each market day and the records are maintained.
  9. Washroom(s) and/or hand sanitizer station(s) is/are available for all shoppers/vendors to wash their hands as required.
  10. Washroom(s)/hand washing station(s) are properly stocked and frequently cleaned and disinfected.
  11. There is limited sampling of food and beverages. Samples to be controlled and offered by single serving methods with physical distancing maintained at all times indoors and outdoorsIndoors, masks or face coverings should only be pulled aside while sampling.
  12. There is limited use of communal tables and seating. Physical distancing must be maintained outdoors. Indoors, physical distancing must be maintained, and masks or face coverings must be worn unless people are eating.  If they are eating, a record of their name and contact information must be maintained.
  13. There is limited programming and busking. Physical distancing must be maintained outdoors and indoorsIndoors masks or face coverings are required.

Food Vendors should respect the following measures to protect themselves and shoppers:

  1. Wash hands regularly and thoroughly (minimum 20 seconds) with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Clean and sanitize frequently-touched market stand surfaces regularly (with household cleaners or diluted bleach solution of 1-part bleach to 9 parts water).
  3. Maintain social distancing– keep 2 metres (6 feet) away from others.
  4. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  5. Masks or face coverings worn in a manner that covers the nose, mouth and chin are required.
  6. Cover mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue if coughing or sneezing.
  7. Not attend the Market if not well.
  8. Prepackage and box products at a fixed price to reduce contact. 

OPTION 2: Protocols for E-Commerce/E-Market protocols

If individual markets plan to operate an e-commerce model with a drive/walk-through pickup of pre-ordered and prepaid products, market managers/organizers must ensure:

  1. Their landlord/property owner approves.
  2. Food and other approved products, subject to public health approval, can be offered for sale.
  3. They contact their local public health unit to confirm the operating procedures for their specific operation to maintain social distancing, the wearing of masks or face coverings, as required, in a manner that covers everyone’s nose, mouth and chin and proper handwashing and sanitizing protocols, including:
    • A written plan showing traffic circulation.
    • A delivery plan based on the number of orders and drive-up customers – if there are a lot, consider staggering times for pickup based on last names (A-E 9-9:30am, F-J 9:30 -10am etc.) and
      • those who drive must stay in their vehicle with orders placed in their vehicles by vendors/volunteers.
      • those who walk must be kept 2 metres (6’) apart with orders placed on a table for them to pick-up to maintain social distancing.
      • vendors/volunteers must maintain social distancing.
    • Hand washing/alcohol-based hand sanitizing facilities are available for vendors/volunteers.
    • Vendors/volunteers are screened for COVID-19, confirming they:
      • Have no symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath).
      • Have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
      • Have not been in contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.
    • Vendors/volunteers must wear masks or face coverings worn in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin.
    • Surfaces where orders are placed or organized are cleaned and disinfected regularly (with household cleaners or diluted bleach solution of 1-part bleach to 9 parts water).
    • Food products are packaged and orders must be prepackaged in new, single use boxes or bags and labelled with customer names or order numbers.
    • Refrigerated and frozen products must be maintained at proper temperatures.

We encourage all members to share your thoughts on the FMO Market Manager Facebook Group page.