L.A. is known for its bountiful farmers’ markets, but as of now, they need to close: Mayor Eric Garcetti announced tonight that he is suspending all farmers’ markets in the City of Los Angeles, pending proof of social distancing.
“This past weekend some of our farmers’ markets became too crowded,” the mayor said in tonight’s coronavirus update. “As much as we love them, we just cannot take any chances with this virus.”
“Food is essential,” he conceded, and these open-air markets are a viable alternative to grocery stores, but for the foreseeable future, they must close until they provide plans for maintaining six feet of distance between shoppers—and then get those plans approved by the city’s Bureau of Street Services.
The mayor advises one entrance to each market, along with one exit, with patrons lining up at the entrance with sufficient space between each shopper. He also encourages the closure of “nonessential” businesses at markets, including crafts and, somehow, prepared foods (though prepared foods are still deemed "essential" for takeout and delivery services).
Mayor Garcetti shared that if farmers' markets submit their plans as soon as tonight, the bureau can review them immediately, putting some markets back up in operation as quickly as later this week.
Should markets remain closed there are other ways to support area farmers, for instance with CSA-style produce boxes available for pickup all over the city, as well as local restaurants that have transformed into corner stores and carry local product.
Some outdoor markets outside the jurisdiction of the City of Los Angeles—such as those in Pasadena, Santa Monica, Torrance and Culver City—are continuing to operate, per the Los Angeles Times.
The onus, Mayor Garcetti added, isn't just on farmers' markets; as a shopper, if a space looks too crowded, wait to enter.
“We want people to be able to eat well, we want people to get access to food,” he continued, “but we can’t risk the spread of this disease.”
This story has been updated with mention of continuing markets.