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Editorial: Be smart when visiting Kingsport Farmers Market

Editorial Board • May 22, 2020 at 9:00 PM

The heart of Kingsport beats again Saturday at 7 a.m. as the Kingsport Farmers Market, a 43-year tradition, opens downtown at the corner of Clinchfield and Center streets.

But COVID-19 will have a marked impact on what was perhaps the city’s most significant social event, dictating how patrons conduct themselves, including moving in a direct path through the market while observing social distancing. The market’s success and perhaps its future will depend on visitors observing rules necessary to ensure safety.

At the direction of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department, the facility will implement new protocols for guests and vendors alike, said Kristie Leonard, market manager and special events coordinator for Kingsport.

“We’re excited to get the season underway, but for us to be able to open and continue to operate this season, this won’t be our market as usual,” Leonard said.

There will be designated, clearly marked entry and exit points, as well as signage inside the market to direct visitors in navigating a new vendor layout that keeps them moving forward. To create adequate space between vendors, parking has been modified, and overflow parking is available in the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce lot.

And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health department recommend that shoppers wear masks.

All market programs, including Saturdays with the Chef, Evening with the Market and the Homegrown Gardening series, have been suspended until further notice. Anyone who needs to redeem SNAP benefits may do so at the market kiosk. The market will be open Saturdays only until June 3, when Wednesday’s market will begin.

Please observe these rules:

— If you feel sick or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home.

— Be alert and follow all posted signage in the market.

— Maintain at least 6 feet of space between yourself and others.

— Be prepared to shop quickly and efficiently.

— Only touch produce you intend to purchase.

— Please bring small bills or exact change to limit cash transactions.

— You may bring reusable bags, but please do not pass to vendors to fill.

— Do not eat on site — take all foods to go.

— Wash all produce when you arrive home.

— Do not go behind a vendor table.

— Leave your furry friends at home. Only service animals will be allowed at this time.

— Wash and sanitize your hands often.

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