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DC farmers markets no longer essential business, need waiver to operate

A new order says all food retailers must enforce social distancing. Outdoor markets no longer qualify as "essential business" and need waivers to run.

WASHINGTON — Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a new order Wednesday evening, requiring that all food retailers enforce social distancing protocols, and declared that outdoor markets are no longer essential businesses. All farmers' markets, including the Fish Market at the Wharf, that wish to operate must obtain a waiver. 

In order to apply for a waiver, "a market manager must submit a plan to the District government at dcfoodpolicy@dc.gov to outline how they will operate and enforce social distancing protocols, and that plan must be approved." 

According to Bowser, the order's safety and social distance protocols apply to all retail food sellers, which include grocery stores, supermarkets, food halls, food banks, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of food. The order does not apply to restaurants preparing food for take-out and delivery, and schools/senior citizens preparing free food for the public. 

RELATED: DC Fish Market unveils new social distance plan: no eating, no kids, no walk-ups

RELATED: Safeway updates social distancing rules: one-way aisle traffic, in-store customer cap and limited hours

All retail food sellers must now enforce these social distancing protocols: 

  • Post signage at the entrance asking customers to wear a mask or mouth covering; not to shop if you're exhibiting symptoms such as cough, runny nose, fever or have a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis; maintain six feet of distance from others; not to shake hands with anyone; shop quickly and alone, or only with members of your household; cough or sneeze away from people; encouraging online shopping, curbside pick-up or delivery. 
  •  Limit the number of in-store customers 
  • Require customers to maintain six-feet of distance and use markers showing that space where lines may form inside and outside the business 
  • Mark paths in the store and require aisles to be one-way traffic 
  • Provide hand sanitizers or wipes at entrances and exits
  • Block use of payment systems or checkout counters next to each other if a minimum distance of six feet cannot be maintained
  • Customers must fill their own bags at check-out if they are able to 
  • Regularly disinfecting all high-touch surfaces like bathrooms, break rooms and administrative areas; disinfecting carts and baskets once per hour; and sanitizing all work surfaces once an hour
  • Cease using any self-serve stations (salad bars, soup bars, etc.) 
  • Minimize bare hand contact with food and post signs encouraging customers to only touch food they want to purchase 

Food retailers must also: 

  • Inform their employees not to come work if they are sick, properly explain their sick leave options and explain social distancing protocols to be enforced among staff and customers.
  • Install plexiglass at registers before April 20 that typically serve more than 50 people a day 
  • Check employees for symptoms before their shift begins, and not allow them to work if they develop symptoms before or during a shift  
  • Separate all employee workstations by at least six feet 
  • Close aisles being restocked 
  • If feasible, provide employees gloves and masks if they come into contact with others 
  • Require employees to notify a manager immediately if they or someone in their house is diagnosed with coronavirus 
  • Implement protocol requiring affected employees to self-quarantine if an employee tests positive 
  • Require employees who have the virus to present a doctor's note clearing them to return to work 

Tennis and golf are also no longer allowable recreational activities under the order, but it clarified that community gardens are open to the public. 

Mayor’s Order 2020-058 is in effect through April 24. See the full order below. 

RELATED: Giant Food updates social distancing rules: One-way aisle traffic, cap on customers in stores

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