Coronavirus crisis: Some farmers markets in Los Angeles and Santa Monica reopen with new distancing guidelines

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Days after being ordered to temporarily close, several farmers markets in Los Angeles and Santa Monica have now been given authorization from city officials to reopen, after submitting physical distancing plans.

Customers lined up early for the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Wednesday morning, some wearing masks and gloves amid heightened concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"They are being strict because they want to stay in business," Lenny Kleinfeld, a farmers market shopper, said.

Prior to opening today, the city of Santa Monica adapted practices to prevent overcrowding -- while also giving people a chance to sanitize their hands inside the market, among other noticeable, necessary changes.

"I very longingly looked at some strawberries I wasn't allowed to taste," Kleinfeld said.

"Everyone's very wary, there's less chatting, and people have been careful about handling money," Andrea Sanderson said.

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"They could've just given up and said hey, this is too difficult, 'let's just shut it down,' and send us all to the grocery store," Nathan Donahoe with Make Love with Food business said.

No more than 200 people are now allowed in at a given time. When one goes out, another can go in -- with market organizers asking that only one member of a household come to shop.

"If you look, there's not large crowds of people around, everyone's pretty much maintaining a six-foot distance," shopper Craig Towe said.

These precautions in Santa Monica come just two days after farmers markets in the city of Los Angeles had been ordered to temporarily close.

Now, several have been given permission to once again to reopen after submitting "physical distancing plans" of their own.

Many of these shoppers believe the opportunity to buy fresh produce and goods shouldn't be taken away.

"To me this is more of an essential service than a grocery store," Donahoe said.

And staying safe while doing so comes down to common sense with the protocols now in place.

"They're keeping me safe and they're keeping everyone safe right now, so I think they're doing a great job," Donahoe said.

The following Farmers Markets have approved public health plans for safe operations:

Lincoln Heights, North Hollywood, Venice, Old LA Historic Downtown, Sherman Oaks, Brentwood, Larchmont, Adams Vermont, Melrose Place and LNR Warner Center in Woodland Hills.
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