Parkdale, ByWard Markets reopen Thursday with different look and feel

Customers will be encouraged to wear masks and hand sanitizing stations will dot both markets as vendors return for reduced hours.

Expect fewer people, reduced hours, new restrictions as vendors return

Crowded sidewalks in front of vendor stalls are a thing of the past as new restrictions come into effect for both the ByWard and Parkdale Markets. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Come Thursday, vendors at the Parkdale and ByWard Markets will be back in business, but the head of Ottawa Markets says it won't be business as usual.

The markets were forced to close in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is to reopen them later this week for fewer days and reduced hours, along with plenty of hand sanitizer.

There will also be far fewer people.

"We don't have the hotel occupancy and the tourism numbers that we would at this time of year, so the individuals that are using the services — the shops and the market — are very much so locals. So I think it's going to perhaps provide a different feeling in the market," said Zach Dayler, executive director of Ottawa Markets.

He said there will also be fewer vendors at both markets, and each vendor will only be able to serve a maximum of two to three customers at at time.

The ByWard Market is one of Canada's oldest public markets, operating for nearly 200 years, but has had to adjust quickly to the changing times since COVID-19. (CBC)

Masks, sanitizing stations

Both markets are taking steps to protect customers and vendors, including designated entrances and exits, signs reminding people to physically distance, and encouraging everyone to wear a mask. Both customers and vendors will also be screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms. There will also be several hand sanitizing stations throughout both markets.

Dayler said despite the changes, he's hoping shoppers will come out and support local vendors.

"Opening up the market ... will sort of, you know, get them back into the idea of popping into the shops, grabbing their meat at Saslove's or their fish at Lapointe, popping into the cheese shop, grabbing something from Rochon Garden," he said.

"Those are things we're still going to be able to do, but it's going to be in a bit of a slower way."

With files from Joe Tunney

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