Public Safety Protocols for Ontario’s Farmers’ Markets

Ontario Government Regulations

Updated May 5, 2021

Farmers’ markets, as businesses that primarily sell food, are considered essential workplaces under Ontario’s Emergency Order. 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.

OPTION 1: Protocols for multi-vendor, multi-stand market

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. The majority of vendors must be selling food, other consumer products and art and craft may be sold.
  4. Stands are spaced out and customer circulation is monitored or controlled (perhaps one-way movement) to maintain social distancing and shoppers time at the market.
  5. The FMO COVID-19 Fact/Info Sheet is posted and seen by all vendors and shoppers. 
  6. The names of all vendors selling are recorded for each market day and the records are maintained.
  7. Washroom(s) and/or hand sanitizer station(s) is/are available for all shoppers/vendors to wash their hands as required.
  8. Washroom(s)/hand washing station(s) are properly stocked and frequently cleaned and disinfected.
  9. There is no sampling of food.
  10. There is no use of reusable or customer supplied containers.
  11. There are no communal tables or seating.

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. Cover mouth and nose with bent elbow or tissue if coughing or sneezing.
  6. Not attend the Market if not well.
  7. Prepackage and box products at a fixed price to reduce contact. 

Best Practices for Operating a Multi-vendor, Multi-stand Market

Farmers’ Markets Ontario would like to acknowledge and thank the Peterborough Regional Farmers’ Network (PRFN) for developing and agreeing to share their Market Operations Guideline document. The PRFN worked with Peterborough Public Health in the development of the specific public health protocols that enabled their market to open during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

We have revised the PRFN document to be more generic and easier for markets to edit as required (the document is a Word file). We encourage markets to use these guidelines as you create your plan in co-ordination with your local public health unit.

Operations Document Download

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. The majority of vendors must be selling food; other consumer products and art and craft may be offered for on-line sale.
  3. They contact their local public health unit to confirm the operating procedures for their specific operation to maintain social distancing 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.
    • 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.