An outdoor market which was shut down by police last weekend due to concerns over social distancing has been given permission to go ahead this weekend.

However, stricter rules will be in place and there may be longer queues.

Thames Valley Police TVP officers closed Lower Earley Farmers’ Market on Saturday, February 27, and ordered people to leave.

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Organisers C A Belcher & Son were concerned they would receive a £10,000 fine but have now confirmed it has not been issued with a fine.

The company met with local police and council officers to discuss the future of Lower Earley Farmers’ Market and was able to agree a way forward.

Posting on Facebook, the company said: “We are over the moon to say that we have been given the green light to go head with our market this Saturday March 6 and future markets.

“We’ve revised our risk assessment and have enhanced the protocols to the satisfaction of everyone present at the meeting.

“We have agreed a plan to ensure the safety of our customers and we ask for your understanding in this matter.”

They said all customers should:

  • Arrive on foot if possible
  • Wear a face covering (this applies to anyone over the age of 11 with the exception of those with a medical exemption)
  • Adhere to the 2 metre rule
  • Not congregate in groups

C A Belcher & Son added: “Things may look a little different on Saturday and the likelihood is that the queuing times may be slightly longer.

“This will be because we will be controlling the amount of people entering the market area.

“We trust you understand our reasons for doing this and we thank you for your patience.

“We’re aiming to create the safest area in Berkshire to buy fresh produce.

“If you’d like to click and collect your groceries, we will have a separate collection point for this.

“Please make your order by Thursday morning if you’d like to take advantage of this.

“Thank you again for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you on Saturday.”

What happened last Saturday?

According to the lockdown rules, market stalls selling food and drink can remain open and hospitality businesses can provide takeaway services.

The government also states that anyone who organises and unlawful gathering of more than 30 people may face a £10,000 fine.

Organiser Matt Belcher, who is the director of food wholesaler C A Belcher and Son, said vendors were dispersing people who were hanging around to enjoy the sunshine on Saturday afternoon, but police then took the decision to close the market.

TVP said it encountered a number of people who were putting themselves and others at risk due to lack of social distancing and non-wearing of masks.

The market was shut down due to social distancing concerns

The market was shut down due to social distancing concerns

READ MORE: Lower Earley market shut down by police over social distancing

It spoke with the organisers and agreed that the market should close 30 minutes early to ensure the safety of the public but said no fines were issued, and the incident was reported to the local authority to consider if any further formal action should be taken.

A council spokesman said: “It is the responsibility of the market’s organisers to make sure that it is safe and meets all legal requirements.

“But the council is willing to work with them to help make sure the market can fulfil its obligations.”