Shoppers at one of the first markets to reopen have said it became “dangerous” with hundreds of people gathered together but “no social distancing.”
After three months without trading, people visiting Walton Street Market in Hull said they felt unsafe despite stringent new rules including social distancing signs, a one way system and traders only serving one person at a time.
Shoppers told Hull Live they saw people gathered too closely, and without any protective gear.
One customer said: “There were hundreds of people at Walton Street market with no social distancing.
“No planning in place by the organisers to space cars out or reduce numbers. I think this needs highlighting as it’s dangerous.
“I definitely didn’t feel safe. Me and my nephew went down one row of stalls and decided it would be to dangerous to stay.
“Very few people had any masks or gloves on. Everybody was just way too close and the sheer number of people made it impossible to stay two meters apart.
“It’s made me angry that there has been so much sacrifice over the last couple of months for it to be ruined by bad planning from the organisers.
“Before we arrived at Walton Street we had gone to Strawberry Fields market near Bridlington and this was much better.
“They had all the cars spaced out, cleaning areas and much better crowd management. It was like night and day in comparison.”
Another said: “I’ve never felt so unsafe, there were just hordes of people all grouped together, it was as if they hadn’t heard of coronavirus.”
Terry Erlich, Manager at Platt Markets – who operates the market on behalf of Hull City Council – said a lot of planning had gone into making the market safe.
He said: “Because of the new legislation regarding markets, we’ve had to completely adapt the markets to new way of trading.
“We’ve got a one way system, new signage, social distancing, we’ve gone beyond and given four times what is required.
“Traders are serving from the front, before they used to have people walking around the stalls. We are limiting the amount of customers at any one stall.
“Traders have gloves, masks and everything that’s necessary to wear. If they don’t have it they can’t trade. We’ve altered the car parking arrangements.
“The customers love it, we’ve had really good feedback. There’s not distancing problems at all, if we see a distancing problem arise we are on it straight away.
“We want people to come and not be worried about the distance. The site is enormous.”
And there are concerns about the safety of heading back to shops across the country.
Almost three people (73%) said they are worried about small businesses reopening – with most nearly one in five (18%) saying they will not return until a vaccine is developed a study by Visa found.
The District Councils’ Network, which represents councils planning the safe reopening of town centres, reassured the public that safety measures would be in place.
Councils said they would:
• Help marshal movements with floor markings and signage
• Carry out more frequent street cleaning, providing hand-sanitiser posts, adapting public seating and conveniences
• Create more pedestrianised spaces and streets
• Adapt indoor and outdoor market spaces to allow traders trading safely
• Deploying council staff or volunteers to provide help and advice
Cllr Mark Crane said: “As the country begins to ease lockdown restrictions, it is absolutely essential that we all continue to exercise maximum care and caution, so as to prevent a second spike in infection.
“District councils, as the authorities responsible for high streets and town centres, will be doing all they can to make public spaces as safe and secure as possible.”
He added: “But we need members of the public to respect these efforts, and take extra care when visiting their local high streets and town centres during this challenging period.”