Cambridge market will reopen tomorrow (18th January), amid backlash at the City Council’s decision to close it on 1st January. An online petition requesting that the market reopen for essential food stores has gained over 7,000 signatures.
Only a select number of stores will be able to reopen. While those selling plants, fresh food, and cycle services can return, other traders, such as those who sell hot food and drinks, will not be able to do so.
The Council has stated that these limitations on which stores can reopen is ‘either due to the current national restrictions and/or because their reopening would attract people to unnecessarily leave their home, come into the city centre and contribute to the risk of unsafe numbers of people gathering and loitering in and around the market.’
A number of measures to protect shoppers will be in place, including ‘a no touch policy for products on display’, ‘a requirement that traders update their risk assessments with the additional coronavirus safety practises and procedure’, and ‘extra space between shoppers and individual market stores’.
The Council announced the decision to close the market, from the beginning of January, on 30th December. At the time, the Council explained that this was ‘to avoid attracting people to the city centre’, as ‘large crowds of people were seen gathering in and around the market square and also congregating in nearby areas such as King’s Parade’.
This decision came under much public criticism. The online petition with over 7,000 signatures called on the Council ‘to reverse its decision to close the market such that essential foods stalls can continue to trade’. It noted, for instance, that ‘Cambridge market stalls being outside in the fresh air and accessible without doorways, corridors or aisles to navigate mean that this location is a very safe way to shop in the current climate.’
The reopening will be ‘kept under continuous review’ by the City Council and ‘as soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted’ it will ‘work to implement further reopening phases until the market is fully operational again’.
The Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment, and City Centre, Rosy Moore, has stated that ‘everyone will be pleased to see the market open again because it is at the heart of our city providing valued goods and services.’
‘Although people feel safer shopping outdoors, it is not risk free, particularly with the more transmissible new variant of the virus that is in circulation.’
‘Given the fact we are in lockdown, I would ask people coming to the market to do their shopping promptly and then make space for others to do theirs. We have signage in place to help and our marshals will be on hand to offer help and advice too,’ Moore continued.
Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire, said that they had ‘assessed the latest data, which is now showing that infection rates – while still high – are beginning to stabilise’ meaning ‘the market can safely reopen for a more limited number of stalls, with the controls proposed.’
Robin emphasised, however, that ‘if we go out for essential reasons it is critical we all continue to keep at least two metres away from anyone we don’t live with and wear a face covering where crowding is possible and in enclosed spaces.’
In the last seven days, 433 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Cambridge, which is 32.2% lower than the previous week.
Read more at Cambridge market to reopen safely on 18 January