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Infection Control Recommendations for Farmer’s Markets when Reopening

In review of the provincial guidelines, the HNHU further encourages the following general recommendations be applied by the public, farmer’s market vendors and operators to prevent or mitigate COVID-19 infection.  Please note, this is not an exhaustive list of requirements as each task requires its own assessment and plan to address infection control against communicable diseases and other hazards.

Screen patrons and staff for illness

  • Post signage (i.e. passive screening) at public and staff entrances advising ill not to enter business
  • Ensure all staff and contractors are actively screened daily
Continue to practice and ensure physical and social distancing

  • Place signage and markers to notify patrons of physical distancing requirements. Consider one-way movement to improve flow of patrons. Have clear “enter market here” and “exit market here” designations.
  • Limits need to be set as to how many people can enter the market area. Coordinators need to get in the practice of crowd-limiting techniques before it becomes an issue
  • Party size limits must meet provincial requirements.
  • Arrange vendor stands and other furniture and other items used by patrons and staff more than 2 metres apart.
  • Ensure there is ample space for lines to form in front of booths, with customers keeping a 6-foot distance from each other.
  • Assign staff to ensure customers are maintaining safe physical distances in congested areas like entrances and exits.
  • Set and post-occupancy limits for indoor areas accessible to the public to ensure patrons can stay 2 metres apart. For example, you could set the occupancy limit by calculating the total useable floor space for patrons (e.g. subtract areas taken up by counters, seating, etc) and divide by 36 square feet. Small areas such as elevators should be considered.  Smaller public areas within the premise (e.g. washrooms) should also have occupancy limits that are posted.
  • Cohort staff (i.e. schedule shifts so only same group of staff work together) where possible to limit impact of potential workplace outbreak on continuity of operations.
  • Avoid carpooling.  Where sharing vehicles is required, passengers should sit in back seats (if available).  Commuters should wear masks and open windows if possible.
Provide easy access to hand washing or hand sanitizer (alcohol based hand rub)

  • Position hand washing or hand sanitizer stations in public (e.g. at entrances and throughout market if supplies allow) and staff areas
  • Post signage to encourage proper hand washing in washrooms and food handling areas.
  • Have all employees and visitors employees perform hand hygiene before entering and after contact with surfaces others have touched.  Hand washing is required where hands are visibly dirty whereas hand sanitizer can be used if hands are not visibly dirty.
  • Ensure hand wash stations are adequately supplied at all times.
Enhance environmental cleaning

  • Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection as well as daily ‘complete’ cleaning before or after a work shift.
  • Ensure staff are trained in proper use of cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. contact times, if PPE needs to be worn)
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces such as door knobs/handles, phones, railings, faucets, toilets, and other shared items frequently.  Clean and disinfect shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, counter tops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders) between each use.  Surfaces should be immediately cleaned following spills or where someone displays respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough or sneeze) in the area.  Discard items that cannot be properly cleaned or disinfected (e.g. food items) after becoming contaminated.
  • Ensure washrooms are cleaned at least twice a day and when visibly soiled.
  • Change tables should be cleaned and disinfected after every use.  Signage should be posted providing instructions for customers as to how to do so where cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. wipes) are provided to patrons.  Otherwise instructions should include customers notifying staff immediately after use.
  • Disinfectants used in public settings should have a DIN and virucidal claim.
  • Wash, rinse, disinfect, and then sanitize food contact surfaces, food preparation surfaces, and food preparation equipment.
  • Ensure that cleaning or disinfecting product residues are not left on table surfaces. Residues could cause allergic reactions or cause someone to ingest the chemicals.
  • Ensure safe and correct use and storage of disinfectants to avoid food contamination and harm to employees and other individuals. This includes storing products securely away from children.
  • Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
Shared Items

  • There is no sampling of food permitted.
  • There is no use of reusable or customer supplied containers permitted.
  • Ensure all products are packaged and kept behind vendor tables. This ensures customers will not handle products before they have been purchased.
  • If customers touch your product without purchasing it, sanitize that item, remove it from your stock, or require the customer to purchase it.
  • Communal tables or seating should be avoided.  If present, they need to be cleaned and disinfected between use.
  • Organizers/vendors should have e-commerce options available for customers to pre-order and pre-pay to reduce cash handling at market
  • Encourage prepackaged and boxed products at a fixed price to reduce contact.
  • Discourage sharing of items that are difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect.
  • Limit any sharing of food, tools, equipment, or supplies by staff members.
  • Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high-touch materials (e.g., serving spoons) to the extent possible; otherwise, limit use of supplies and equipment by one group of workers at a time and clean and disinfect between use.
  • Avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as condiments and any other food containers. Instead, use disposable or digital menus, single serving condiments, and no-touch trashcans and doors.
  • Tables should not be set with utensils, dishes and other food service items until the customers are present.
  • Use touchless payment options as much as possible, if available. Ask customers and employees to exchange cash or card payments by placing on a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand to avoid direct hand to hand contact. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as pens, counters, or hard surfaces between use and encourage patrons to use their own pens.
  • Use disposable food service items (e.g., utensils, dishes, napkins, tablecloths). If disposable items are not feasible or desirable, ensure that all non-disposable food service items are handled with gloves and washed with dish soap and hot water, or in a dishwasher. Employees should wash their hands after removing their gloves or after handling used food service items.
Provide personal protective equipment and physical barriers where applicable

  • Masks must be worn in enclosed public areas where the public is permitted and in enclosed areas where employees cannot maintain 2 metres physical distance.
  • Where persons cannot maintain physical distancing, install barriers (e.g. plexiglass, use tables and other barriers to ensure customers keep a safe distance from you and your products) or provide appropriate PPE (e.g. masks for staff who may need to be within 2 metres of customers or other staff members).
  • Appropriate PPE should be determined based on the task being completed
  • Ensure staff are trained as to how to don (i.e. put on) and doff (i.e. take off) PPE
Provide alternative service delivery where possible

  • Self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations is prohibited.  Similarly, use of food and beverage utensils and containers brought in by customers should be avoided.
  • Consider time limits for customers to limit the amount of time spent in the establishment.
  • Avoid cash transactions.  Debit or credit using ‘tap’ option is preferred.
  • Provide services on-line or other methods (e.g. pick up) limiting interactions amongst people
  • Consider extending business hours if it reduces surges in patrons attending workplace.
  • Offer options for vulnerable employees at higher risk for severe illness (including older adults and people of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions) that limits their exposure risk (e.g., modified job responsibilities such as managing inventory rather than working as a cashier, or managing administrative needs through telework).
Get your water system ready after a prolonged facility shutdown

  • For those on a municipal or communal water supply, flush your water lines by opening all faucets for 10-15 minutes and the water runs clear.
  • For those on a private water supply, ensure equipment is operating properly (e.g. filters, treatment units), flush and consider shock chlorinating system. Only commence use of water system once satisfactory drinking water samples are obtained.  For Small Drinking Water System Operators, follow regulatory requirements (O. Reg. 319/08) 
Increase ventilation

  • Where possible, increase the ventilation system’s air intake or open doors and windows. Avoid central recirculation where possible.
  • Similarly, open windows when in vehicles with others where possible.
Keep staff up-to-date on the evolving situation and applicable health and safety issues

  • Ensure staff know how to report an illness in a timely manner and take action to protect themselves and others when at work
  • Review signs, symptoms and methods of transmission of COVID-19
  • Ensure staff know when and how to self-isolate should it be required.
  • Consider having a point person for each shift that can address COVID-19 concerns
  • As with all workplaces, the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be applied.  Safety is everyone’s responsibility under the act and thus all staff should assess and plan to address their tasks with infection control in mind.  Application of R.A.C.E. is recommended:

Rrecognize the hazard

Aassess the risk associated with the hazard

Ccontrol the risk associated with the hazard (e.g. Hierarchy of Controls)

Eevaluate the controls

Please be advised, the HNHU is not responsible to address health and safety complaints issued by employees against their employers.  Employees and employers seeking further direction on occupational health and safety measures should consult the Ministry of Labour.