COVID-19
and Virginia’s Farmers Markets

Highlights

List of Markets (Open/Closed)
Submit Changes to List of Markets
Shared Google Drive File (resources)
Gov. Northam’s Executive Order 55
Gov. Northam’s Executive Order 53
FAQs on Executive Order 53
View Guidance From VDACS
Examples & Resources

Updated April 1, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program Application

The Department of Treasury has released the Paycheck Protection Program application and supplemental information, all available on their website. Please review the Borrower PPP Fact Sheet, Lender Information and Treasury PPP Overview as these will answer many of your questions.
Application

Updated March 30, 2020

FARMERS MARKETS ARE STILL OPEN UNDER EOC 55!

After speaking with Commissioner Bronaugh of VDACS this afternoon, she confirmed farmer’s markets are still operating under the same guidelines and protocols as last week under EOC 53.

To help keep track of resources and tools being developed by various markets around Virginia, we’ve created a Google Drive folder that markets can access and add to. Take a look, and if you have something you’d like to share with others, please feel free to add it in!

Shared Google Drive File (resources)

Updated March 26, 2020

The following guidelines were approved via e-mail by Commissioner Bronaugh and Secretary Ring of VDACS. “The additional measures to increase social distancing below sounds very reasonable, and we support that interpretation of VDACS’ most recent guidance.”

From VAFMA: Our interpretation of this most recent guidance from VDACS is that we can continue to run all farmers markets in Virginia provided that we ensure strict social distancing procedures are met and encourage customers to pre-order online as much as possible. Markets will operate under normal times and locations starting this weekend, with enhanced social distancing safety protocols in place.

We will be taking additional measures to increase social distancing:

    • Market managers will adjust booth assignments to allow as much space for social distancing as possible.
    • All vendors are to operate with minimal display, out of their vehicles if possible.
    • All vendors must reorganize their space so that customers cannot enter their booth to touch or browse through products.
    • Each vendor should display a menu of items for customers to order from. Share early and often on social media so customers can come prepared!
    • Vendors must bag products for their customers. Items like produce should be pre-bagged whenever possible to reduce touchpoints. Reusable bags cannot be used at this time.
    • Ideally, there should be one employee bagging produce and the other handling money. Gloves are available to use!
    • Please continue to push customers to pre-order/pay for items to decrease the density of customers.
    • Vendors should do all they can to reduce touchpoints at the point of sale. Turn off signature requirements, and allow customers to insert/swipe their own cards if possible. You could also manually enter the customer’s CC information to avoid touching all together. Please encourage customers to prepay online whenever feasible. Vendors must wipe down screens and card readers with disinfectant after each customer, and use hand sanitizer.
    • We recommend that you no longer accept cash, and use touchless payment like Venmo if feasible.
    • Market Managers will monitor customer density and restrict entry to the market as needed to ensure there is ample room for social distancing.
    • We will be indicating the safe social distance space of 6 feet using painters tape in front of each booth.
    • Only one customer can shop at a booth at a time. If a line forms please remind customers to leave 6 feet distance.
    • Vendors can accept SNAP, but please keep coupons/tokens in a plastic bag (pleas date!), and turn them into your manager for reimbursement in two weeks’ time (or hold off until things calm down if feasible).
    • No on-site food consumption or sampling is allowed! All prepared foods must be packaged to go.
Download PDF
VA Fresh Match Network Call Minutes (w/Sec. Ring)

Updated March 25, 2020

Farmers Market Guidance from VDACS

View Guidance From VDACS

There are many online platforms available to markets and vendors for pre-ordering and online ordering. These are the ones shared with us:

Lulu’s Local Food ,What’s GoodLocal LineHarvie , Food4All., SquareSpace

Here are example instructions provided by Lynchburg Community Market of how to handle curbside pick-up orders: 

  • All orders must be prebagged and ready for delivery Saturday morning
    • All orders must be placed before vendor’s arrival at Market
    • This means we cannot take any walk-in or call-in orders day of
  • Ask for prepayment of orders
    • This helps keep customers moving as quickly as we can
    • If prepayment isn’t available vendors must wear single use gloves
    • Deliver order, then take payment, then WASH YOUR HANDS 
  • Hours on Saturday are relaxed
    • Invite your customers to pick up before 7 if possible/interested 
  • We have to put a hard limit on 10 pickup customers.
    • If all 10 spaces are full, we will ask customers to circle back 
    • Please try to stagger customer pickups if they’re asking about pickup times 
  • Customer procedure
    • Staff checks who customer has order with and directs them to parking space 
    • Staff can run orders – only if prepaid – staff cannot handle money 
    • Follow above procedure for delivering pickup 
    • If customer is paying with SNAP let us know! Our SNAP terminal is mobile 

If you have had a positive experience with another platform, please let us know.

Download PDF

Updated March 23, 2020 – Farmers Markets May Only Offer Delivery and/or Takeout Services

In a very disappointing turn of events … effective Tuesday at 11:59 PM, Virginia farmers markets may only offer delivery and/or takeout services.

VDACS Commissioner Dr. Jewel Bronaugh just called Kim Hutchinson, VAFMA Executive Director, to clarify that farmers markets may only accept pre-ordering or online ordering — items have to be packaged and ready for pickup at the market.

This order goes into effect at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 and will remain in place until 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

Governor’s Statement Below:

Governor Northam Orders Statewide Closure of Certain Non-Essential  Businesses, K-12 Schools

~ Bans public gatherings of more than 10 people ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Executive Order Fifty-Three orders the closure of certain non-essential businesses, bans all gatherings of more than 10 people, and closes all K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year. Governor Northam is also urging all Virginians to avoid non-essential travel outside the home, if and when possible.

This order goes into effect at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 and will remain in place until 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

“This is an unprecedented situation, and it requires unprecedented actions to protect public health and save lives,” said Governor Northam. “I know the next several weeks will be difficult. These restrictions on non-essential businesses will create hardships on the businesses and employees affected. But they are necessary, and we do not undertake them lightly. I am calling on Virginians to sacrifice now, so that we can get through this together.”

In addition, Virginia is launching a statewide media campaign to ensure Virginians fully understand their risk and do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Commonwealth’s “Health in Your Hands” campaign will include radio and television spots as well as statewide billboards and highway signs.

 

Public Gatherings

 All gatherings of more than 10 people are banned statewide, beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. This does not include gatherings that involve the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government.

K-12 Schools

All schools will remain closed through the end of this academic year. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will issue guidance to help divisions execute plans to continue instruction, while ensuring students are served equitably, regardless of income level, access to technology, English learner status, or special needs. This includes options for additional instruction through summer programming, integrating instruction into coursework next year, and allowing students to make up content. VDOE will submit a waiver to the federal government to lift end-of-year testing requirements and is exploring options to waive state mandated tests.

 

Recreation and Entertainment Businesses

The following recreation and entertainment businesses are considered non-essential and must close to the public beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020:

  • Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers;
  • Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities;
  • Beauty salons, barber shops, spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed that would not allow compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain six feet apart;
  • Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities;
  • Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.

Dining and On-Site Alcohol Establishments

All dining and congregation areas in the following establishments must close to the public beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. These establishments may continue to offer delivery and/or takeout services. Establishments include:

  • Restaurants;
  • Dining establishments;
  • Food courts;
  • Farmers markets;
  • Breweries;
  • Microbreweries;
  • Distilleries;
  • Wineries; and
  • Tasting rooms.

Retail Businesses

 The following retail businesses are considered essential and may remain open during normal business hours:

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  • Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet stores and feed stores;
  • Printing and office supply stores; and
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

All essential retail establishments must, to the extent possible, adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.

Any brick-and-mortar retail business not listed above must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment, adhere to social distancing recommendations, sanitize common surfaces, and apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close.

 

Additional Guidance

Professional businesses not listed above must utilize telework as much as possible. Where telework is not feasible, such businesses must adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing procedures, and apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities, including CDC, OSHA, and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Businesses in violation of this order may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Nothing in Executive Order Fifty-Three limits the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; the operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government.

The full text of Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here. Additional guidance and a Frequently Asked Questions guide can be found here.

Watch the video of today’s announcement here.

Updated March 23, 2020

Per community request, here is the sign that LVHMC used to notify customers of COVID-19 protocols at market:

COVID-19 Sign for Markets

Updated March 21, 2020

Virginia Farmers Markets are Open for Business! 10 Customers at a Time

We anticipate an official statement on Monday, however, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has assured us that farmers markets are able to stay open in Virginia provided they restrict occupancy to not more than 10 customers at a given time in the market. (This number does not include vendors).

All markets and vendors need to strictly follow the protocols provided on this page. Look at Leesburg Farmers Market photos below to see this in action.

The Secretary of Agriculture, VDACS, and the Virginia Department of Health are working with us and have been from the beginning. They are very aware of our concerns and are doing what they can to serve the farmers market community and keep everyone safe.

VDACS Commissioner Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh asked that we let “VAFMA members know we are working diligently to adhere to the guidelines of Governor Northam and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Commissioner Oliver regarding the Public Health Emergency Order. Farmers’ Markets are important to us in Virginia. We are doing the very best to keep everyone safe so we can move through this pandemic and all of Virginia’s valuable agricultural industries can return to normal operations.”

Markets with Revoked Permits

As we continue to work to keep farmers markets open, let us know if your local municipality, city council, etc closed your market or suspended your permit due to COVID-19.

Senator Mark Warner’s office has stated that they are happy to continue to work with VAFMA  “to ensure farmers markets across the Commonwealth are not unnecessarily forced to close/suspend operations during this public health emergency.” Please e-mail us if this applies to your market.

Let Us Know if You are Open
We are building a list of markets that are open. Please email us your market name, where you’re market is located, your market hours, etc so we can build a list and advertise the open markets!

We Need Your Help
During this critical time we need funds to continue to advocate for you. As an organization with limited resources we rely on donations to keep our doors open. Now more than ever, we need your support to help keep Virginia farmers markets open for business. If you are able to, please make a donation today.

As we have more news, we will share it here.

Thank you for your continued support of Virginia’s farmers markets!

Updated March 20, 2020

As of right now farmers markets are able to stay open in Virginia provided they restrict occupancy to not more than 10 customers at a given time in the market. (This number does not include vendors). All markets and vendors need to strictly follow the protocols provided on below.

We have submitted letters to the Governor, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Commissioners of Agriculture and of Health requesting that farmers markets be considered essential infrastructure for food access and remain open. They are discussing the situation and will follow-up with us once they have determined how to proceed.

The Secretary of Agriculture, VDACS, and VDH are working with us and have been from the beginning. They are very aware of our concerns and are doing what they can to serve the farmers market community and keep everyone safe.

We thank everyone who signed on to the letter. We know there are many more who wanted to sign it but missed the short window we had it open. We had to move very quickly because the situation is rapidly changing as you well know.

As soon as we have more news, we will let you know. Thank you for your continued support of Virginia’s farmers markets.

Updated March 20, 2020

Updated March 19, 2020

Today, VAFMA sent a letter to Bettina Ring, the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry in Virginia, requesting that farmers markets be given the same designation as grocery stores for the purposes of COVID-19 containment policies.

Read the Letter

The letter was digitally signed by over 1,100 individuals. Those who signed the letter represented many Virginia businesses:

In addition to the letter, we also included protocols for Farmers Markets should they remain open:

Download Protocols for COVID-19

Updated March 19, 2020

We believe that farmers markets provide vital food access services to our community, and we will continue to do so as safely as possible The health, safety and overall wellbeing of our farmers market community is always our top priority.

With this in mind, we have been closely monitoring the rapidly-changing situation around COVID-19 (commonly referred to as coronavirus), responding to new information as it arises and preparing for all possible scenarios, with the goal of farmer’s markets continuing to safely serve Virginia’s communities.

As the spread of COVID-19 has become a reality in Virginia, market operators are developing communications, preparing contingency plans and, in some regions, beginning to modify operations. Some public health officials may require that markets close until the outbreak diminishes. 

To help market operators adapt to this rapidly changing economic and public health situation, the Virginia Farmers Market Association has compiled information and recommendations from farmers markets, state associations, health departments and the Centers for Disease Control. 

Farmers Markets Are Essential: Our open-air markets are important and necessary food outlets for community members from all economic backgrounds across Virginia to purchase healthy, fresh, nutritious food.

Farmers Markets Allow You to Shop Direct: Shopping at our markets means that you can purchase fresh, nutritious food from as close to the source as possible.

Farmers Markets Support Our Region: Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers. Shopping at farmers markets means you are supporting your local economy, which is especially critical in this time of uncertainty.

There is no evidence that food is a source or transmission route for the virus. To keep our farmers, producers, and shoppers safe, we are encouraging the following actions at Virginia’s markets:

  • Our farmers markets are vibrant community spaces where many shoppers gather to socialize in addition to purchasing groceries. However, for the time being, we ask shoppers to prioritize essential food purchasing and eliminate social gatherings at the market. 
  • Farmers markets vendors will only be food /produce vendors and ready-made food will be carry out only.
  • If a vendor is sick or has been exposed to (or suspects they have been exposed to) COVID-19, ask them not to attend the market. We require vendors and customers to take note if they are experiencing symptoms such as fever or dry cough, to stay home to take care of themselves and protect others if they are sick.
  • Market managers will wipe down commonly used services, such as the market information table, EBT redemption devices (phones, card swipers), and have hand sanitizer available.
  • Market managers will mandate that Vendors wear gloves and change them frequently.
  • All markets will suspend sampling of products at the market and to restrict access to condiments, silverware, cup lids, etc. unless requested.
  • Markets will send an email/post on social media  before the market informing customers of the new guidelines and asking folks who are sick to stay home.
  • Customers will practice “social distancing” – maintaining a space of about six feet from each other – and markets will inform customers of this policy as they enter the market; have signage, and volunteers, if possible, spread throughout the market reminding customers of the practice.
  • Market managers will  temporarily redesign market locations to limit contact and still allow people to purchase from vendors.  The space between vendors will be increased to reduce crowding to 10+ feet with no more than 2 customers at a booth at a time.
  • Customers will not handle any items on the vendors’ tables but, instead, will  just point at what they want and let vendors bag their purchases; market managers will  provide vendors with signage informing customers of this policy.
  • Market managers are asked to rescind/relax the policy about not allowing purchases until opening bell to prevent the long lines that form at vendors’ booths before the market opens; instead, allow early arrivals to make purchases.
  • Vendors are asked not to use cloth tablecloths to make it easier to sanitize surfaces; or, if using a tablecloth, to lay a sheet of plastic over the top of vendor tables or cloth tablecloths which can be wiped down with sanitizer.
  • We are encouraging vendors to have one person to handle money and another to handle product.
  • Contactless pay options are easy and convenient and minimize the need to interact with credit cards or cash. Customers will be encouraged to use Apple Pay or similar. We encourage Vendors to round their prices to the nearest dollar so they can stop accepting coins (in the laboratory the virus has survived on coins). Vendors handling money should not touch food products until they have washed their hands. 
  • As possible, have volunteers stop by the vendor booths to relieve them so they can leave and wash their hands.
  • Hand sanitizer should be ubiquitous throughout the market, at market manager tables, vendor tables and also in other locations throughout market.
  • If possible, vendors should pre-package produce, offering it in closed containers or single-use containers. 
  • All special events and programming, including POP programming, food and cooking demos, music, etc. are suspended. Farmers Markets will be for food sales only.

The COVID-19 virus is thought to be spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can be killed using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. If you are an at-risk population (particularly older adults or immunocompromised individuals) we encourage you to prioritize your own health and minimize your exposure to large groups of people. Consider asking a friend or family member to pick up your market items for you.

Stay Informed

Farmers market operators should consult their local health departments and the Virginia Department of Health for current public health information pertinent to their community.  Regularly read the updates and recommendations available on their website and sign up for any alerts offered by local or county-level health officials. The CDC has issued interim guidance for large public gatherings with useful steps.

Highlights include:

  • Establish relationships with key community partners and stakeholders such as local health departments and collaborate with them on broader planning efforts. 
  • Virginia has declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19.  A state of emergency is a procedural step that allows state and local health officials to access additional resources for identifying, treating and preventing the spread of the disease. 

Proper Cleaning Protocol

Vendors must clean and sanitize their supplies and equipment regularly:

For surfaces that will be in contact with food or food products (such as produce bins, coolers, boxes, tools), use detergents and sanitizing solutions that are food safe:

  • Clean the surface with a detergent (for example, Dawn dish detergent) and rinse thoroughly.
  • Use a sanitizer product that is approved for use on food contact surfaces. (Consult this list: https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/sites/producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/PSA-Labeled-Sanitizers-for-Produce.xlsx).
  • Follow the label instructions for the sanitizer you use when mixing, applying and storing it. Some sanitizers require contact time on the surface to be effective, and others require a rinse step.
  • Allow the surface to air dry. 

To clean and sanitize surfaces that will not come into contact with food or food products (such as chairs, tables, truck beds):

  • Clean the surface with a detergent (for example, Dawn dish detergent) and rinse thoroughly.
  • Use a product that the EPA has approved for use against viruses and other emerging pathogens: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-03/documents/sars-cov-2-list_03-03-2020.pdf.
  • Follow the label instructions for the sanitizer you use when mixing, applying and storing it. Some sanitizers require contact time on the surface to be effective, and others require a rinse step.
  • Allow the surface to air dry. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and sanitizing surfaces.

Additional Resources

CDC Link

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html 

Virginia Department of Health 

http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/

FEMA Guidance for COVID – 19 Preparedness

https://www.ready.gov/ 

Please take good care of yourselves, your family and friends, and your communities
as we all navigate this immense challenge together.