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Council looking to re-open markets in Newmarket and across West Suffolk

West Suffolk Council is actively looking to reopen markets but only for essential food stalls and only if strict guidelines can be stuck to for everyone’s safety.

Despite government guidance which allowed markets to stay open for essential food, markets across the district including Newmarket's twice weekly High Street market had to cease as the coronavirus crisis reduced staffing levels at the Bury St Edmunds-based authority. The Stay At Home guidancesaw more than 40 waste and street services workers either having to shield themselves as vulnerable or someone in their home.

The council is now actively talking to market traders and their representatives about looking at measures that could mean the markets, which give people the chance to buy food and social distance, may open again.

Newmarket's historic market could be set to re-open
Newmarket's historic market could be set to re-open

But no date will be set until the council can be assured that the necessary measures and processes can be brought in.

It will be looking to put in strict hygiene and social distancing measures as well as how people use the market and access it. The markets will only restart once safety measures can be assured and will be kept under constant review. This will include only essential food stalls and no takeaways, stalls placed apart, contact-less payment as well as signs and lines to avoid people getting too close.

Council leaderJohn Griffiths, said: “West Suffolk is well known for its markets and they play an important role in our local economy as well as providing outlets for local produce. We very much want, and are actively looking, to reinstate them as and when appropriate but I must make it clear that the safety of the public, traders and our staff is paramount and this will not happen unless and until strict guidelines can be met, and kept, to ensure social distancing, good hygiene and safety.

"That said, markets have been operating successfully and safely in some other locations and by working with our traders we believe this can also happen in West Suffolk, even with reduced staffing. Apart from anything else it should give people greater choice of produce and greater space to stay apart, and in the future the markets should of course also help with the recovery of other town centre businesses. This will be all be kept under constant review as we move forward."