Why Slow Food Melbourne Farmers’ Markets are a safe place to do your food shopping, and how to comply with Stage 4 restrictions at the market

    COVID19 might well be rebranded Chaos19 for the turmoil it has created for us around Melbourne town and suburbs. While it may seem to have been named for a Mexican beer it does at times have us reaching for a relaxing beverage or two to just contemplate the new world order. Taking some time out to come to terms with the changes the pandemic has wrought to our otherwise well-ordered lives involves asking a lot of questions about what we can and can’t do under current government implemented guidelines. And sometimes thinking through what is just plain sensible to keep ourselves sane and safe.

    New restrictions, changing rules and lockdowns have been hard to keep pace with so not really surprising that some of us are getting a tad confused. But while we are currently in Stage 4 restrictions the rules are now pretty clear:

    • Stay home wherever possible
    • Wear a mask at all times in public unless you have a medical exemption, which you need to carry with you

    And there are only four reasons to leave home

    1. For work if you can’t work from home. You need to have a work permit and carry it at all times .
    2. Care giving and medical appointments. Again have proof with you of where you are going and why.
    3. Exercise. And only within walking distance of your home. Don’t stray further than 5 kilometres.
    4. Shopping for essential items, which will mostly be food. One person per household only.

    This brings up many questions; and we have seen these thrashed out on social media to much mixed response. One that has created confusion is the question of shopping at open food markets.

    Can farmers’ markets continue to operate?

    Yes. They are an essential service providing food.

    Can you shop at a farmers’ market or other open food market?

    Yes but all the same rules still apply. One shopper only per household and only if it is within 5 kilometres of your home. Masks are mandatory. Which also means… you can’t bring the family, walk the dog or hang out chatting with the neighbours you have run into or have a picnic if the sun is shining… Sure normally these are all things you would do at market, but these are not normal times and breaking the rules can result in hefty fines from the police. Don’t risk it and be responsible in keeping your local community and market stallholders safe.

    What is Slow Food Melbourne doing to ensure safe operating at their markets in Spotswood and West Footscray?

    First of all we are implementing all of the government mandated rules. No exceptions. We like to be polite but if you try to break the rules we will refuse you entry. Secondly we have implemented our own code of conduct and protocols which we introduced back in March when this all began. One shopper at a time at stalls, no touching the produce, one way traffic in and out of market, hand washing and sanitising, social distancing while shopping or queueing.

    Now we are also taking names and phone numbers for contact tracing as an extra precaution. Why are we so strict you might ask? None of these rules apply in the supermarket. Our farmers come into Melbourne to COVID19 hot spots from regional areas where there is no infection. We don’t want to risk them taking infection back to their local communities. Most are small family businesses. If one person gets sick they have to close down their entire business and all the work they have put into growing food for us has been for nothing. They then make no money and have to dispose of good food which they then can’t sell.

    We value our farmers and the work they do to provide us with quality, local, fresh food. We want to protect them and our food chain. It is a mark of respect for their effort and hard work to help keep them and our local communities safe by following the guidelines. If you are not happy to follow these rules and guidelines you are free to make your own decisions but then we respectfully ask you to shop elsewhere. We are all in this together.

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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