After Governor Newsom’s order last Wednesday banning gatherings of more than 250 to slow down transmission of novel Coronavirus, a number of farmers markets across the state were ordered by their city or county authorities to suspend operations. Some were able to negotiate to stay open as essential services. Many could not and were forced to close, depriving their communities of their regular source of food. Food and farming activists mounted a campaign through the weekend to petition the State to affirm “the essential role Certified Farmers’ Markets play for California’s farmers, economy, and communities across the State, and affirmatively equate Certified Farmers’ Markets with grocery stores and other retail outlets for the purposes of COVID19 cont ainment policies.” While a direct response to this urgent request was not received, Monday evening the California Department of Public Health issued a guidance, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Retail Food, Beverage, and OtherRelated Service Venues, March 16, 2020” that details steps that Certified Farmers Markets should take to prevent further COVID-19 transmission.
https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/... This signals that the State does in fact see farmers' markets as essential businesses at this time.
Also on Monday, public health officers for the City of Berkeley and the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Cruz issued shelter in place orders directing residents to shelter at home for three weeks beginning March 17. The orders limit activity, travel and business functions to only the most essential needs. All of these jurisdictions exempted farmers markets as “essential businesses”. On Tuesday, the counties of Sonoma, Monterey and San Benito and the City of Palm Springs ordered the same actions. This linked order from Santa Clara County is representative, and the others can be found on their respective health departments’ websites. https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/Dise...
Sunday, Los Angeles County, that has not issued shelter in place orders, published this guidance for farmers markets that affirms their role in providing fresh food to communities. http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/... And on Tuesday, Orange Country restricted public and private gatherings in an order from the public health office that defined certified farmers markets as “essential activities” that would be allowed to continue. http://www.ochealthinfo.com/civicax/f...
Based on these decisions by multiple public health officers, we believe farmers markets that were shutdown are entitled to reopen if they can comply with the State guidelines. Many markets had already put in place those safety practices and more in recent weeks. There’s now an urgent effort to inform and follow-up with market managers and local health authorities in time for markets to open this weekend. Small farmers cannot afford a second week without sales.
This is where I need your help.
1) To identify markets that were shutdown (see list in reply below), and
2) To work with them to get the orders reversed.
I am hoping that by today I can share a letter template that can be used by individuals or groups to petition the authorities. But even without it, just letting the market manager know that you want to the market to reopen and sharing the information above by email or social media could be a spur to faster action. Please jump on this!
[This is a continuation of the earlier discussion, "Thank you, Mayor Breed!"
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