The Minnesota Farmers' Market Association wants to make one thing perfectly clear: Farmers markets are alive in the age of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Last week, Gov. Tim Walz shut down restaurants, cafes, bars, breweries, coffeehouses, and distilleries to the public. Absent from that list are farmers markets, which fall under the same category as grocery stores. Ya know, places that sustain human life via food.
Some pandemic adaptations are being mandated: Samples and other on-site food consumption are banned, hand-washing stations must be added, and social distancing practices are to be observed. Some markets are working on adding online ordering, according to a press release from MFMA.
"We are taking steps to keep our customers and foods safe," says David Kotsonas, director of the Saint Paul Farmers' Market.
The Saint Paul Farmers' Market was set to open outdoors on April 25, he adds, but that date has been bumped up to this Saturday to provide additional access to food during the pandemic; 25 to 30 vendors will set up shop at 290 E. Fifth St. in Lowertown.
Over in Minneapolis, the Mill City Farmers Market will be in operation Saturday, but only for pickups of pre-orders.
On Thursday, Governor Walz signed an order classifying grocery store workers as emergency workers, giving them free childcare during the COVID-19 outbreak. Grocery chains around the metro are temporarily boosting worker pay.
Let's hear from newsman Dan Rather:
You know who are also heroes? Those working the checkout counters and stocking shelves at supermarkets and pharmacies. Their work, at some risk to their own health, is vital to the health and safety of our country.— Dan Rather (@DanRather) March 14, 2020