In early May, the city of Auburn announced it had received approval from Public Health — Seattle & King County to open and operate the Auburn Farmers Market for its third year.
There will be a few guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic to keep everyone — staff, vendors, volunteers and customers — safe.
The market opens at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 7, at Les Gove Park, 1140 Auburn Way S.
But in this weird year, said market coordinator Amanda Valdez, people should anticipate changes over past seasons, pack plenty of patience and bring a shopping list.
Phase One of the reopening plan allows farmers, flower vendors, food, sanitation and health vendors at the market. When Public Health gives the nod, Phase Two will allow craft vendors, and Phase Three will permit the addition of nonprofit organizations, sponsors and service vendors.
One of the most obvious differences between past years and this year is that the market will be fenced off, having one entrance and one exit, with one hand-sanitizer-bearing staff member at each locale. While there will be a hand-washing station inside the market, for now, per county order, public rest rooms will be closed.
“Right now, we’re limiting customers to two per time at a booth inside the market,” Valdez said. “We hope once June 7 rolls around, Public Health will be down at the market and allow us to have more people inside shopping. That would be great and help keep the waiting times down for people because we’ve got such an open, grassy area in the park with plenty of space for our vendors to spread out.”
Valdez expects the market to open with 30 vendors, down significantly from the 50-60 vendors common to past years. Given the limits noted above, this means only 60 people may be inside the market at one time to shop.
Market officials will ask customers to send one person per household to the market if they can to keep wait times down. This comes with the acknowledgment that one-at-a-time will not work for everyone.
Also, where vendors’ booths have been normally cheek-to-jowl and mixed up to accommodate browsing, all booths this season will be at least 10 feet apart. Social distancing markers on the ground inside and outside the market will show where customers can form a line, with 6 feet between each person. Staff members will be inside and outside the market to remind people about the social distancing guidelines.
“All vendors, volunteers and staff will wear masks, and we highly recommend that all of our customers wear masks, too. It’s not a requirement, but it’s highly encouraged,” Valdez said. “We are also asking everyone, vendors, volunteers, staff and customers to self-screen themselves before coming to the market, and to please stay home if you are sick.”
“We also ask shoppers to know before they go, and bring their shopping lists,” Valdez said. “Something else we’ve never done before is we will post a list of vendors and what products they will bring on any given Sunday. That list will go up on Fridays before the market, so customers can plan their shopping lists ahead of time. That will make it easier for everyone to get in and out of the market while still supporting local food systems and vendors.”
Because Public Health does not at this time allow any eating on site, food vendors won’t be allowed to provide samples, and all of the prepared food vendors will be packing their food in to-go containers. On-site food vendors will be placed toward the exit so customers can grab lunch and head out.
Through July, the market will not be allowed to have any arts and crafts vendors or any entertainment.
“We are holding out that for August and September we might be able bring those back,” Valdez said.
Market hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays, June 7 through Sept. 20.