Street markets in Huntingdon and St Ives are set to expand again as the coronavirus lockdown is eased - but are being temporarily relocated to nearby sites in a bid to boost safety for traders and the public.
Huntingdonshire District Council, which runs the markets, is in talks with traders about reopening more stalls with an emphasis on public safety through social distancing.
In St Neots, where the Thursday market is operated separately by Wendy Fair Markets, stalls are also being reintroduced and manager Bernie Hunter said townspeople had been “brilliant” in their support.
From June 15, the St Ives Monday and Friday markets, together with the farmers’ market run by St Ives Town Council, will be moving from the town centre to the nearby Cattle Market car park. In Huntingdon, the Saturday market will partially return to its traditional home on the Market Square until further notice.
District council leader, Cllr Ryan Fuller, said: “We welcome the news of outdoor markets being able to re-open but, in order to ensure the safety of the public, traders and council staff, a number of changes to the operation of each market will apply.
“Collaboration with local partners Huntingdonshire Businesses Against Crime, Huntingdon Business Improvement District, county council highways and the town councils has enabled us to safely announce the reopening of the markets in new temporary locations.”
Mr Hunter said: “Stallholders are keen to get back to work because it is their livelihoods. I have had a lot of good support from the people of St Neots, they have been outstanding.
“It has been working very well in St Neots and the public have been very good. They did not need to be told about social distancing and have been doing it automatically.”
Mr Hunter said the stalls would gradually return to the market which would remain on the Market Square.
The district council said fresh food and essentials had been on sale at the district’s markets during the lockdown, but the Government had since relaxed the rules to allow outdoor markets to sell other goods and the authority was now finalising plans to reintroduce more traders.
It said moving the markets was intended to support social distancing within the town centres by providing more space for pedestrians, using larger areas to create a safer area for traders and the public.