Traders and customers are getting to grips with the new way of doing things at Barnstaple Pannier Market following its reopening at the beginning of July.
The market reopened on July 3 with a host of Covid-19 compliant measures in place, including social distancing, information signs, new entry points and hand sanitiser stations.
Now it will see a phased return to normal operation and the Gazette went down on Friday, July 10 get the first impressions of reopening from traders and operators.
So far they report it has been steady, but not packed, as shoppers and regulars begin to return to browse their favourite market stalls.
North Devon Council is keen to promote the reopening of the market as part of its LiveLoveLocal Campaign.
Town centre manager Hannah Harrington said reopening had gone well, with numerous measures in place that customers and traders had willingly adopted.
She said: “It’s slowly picking up in terms of footfall – there’s still a job to do to convince people to come back into the town centre, which is expected to pick up further in the next few weeks.”
Market manager Simon Curry said the market was the ‘jewel in the crown’ and an important aspect of the town centre.
He said: “It’s great to see some of the traders back again and we look forward to increasing the footfall every day.
“It’s a different set up but all the traders have adapted extremely well and everybody seems happy.”
Stallholder Caroline Read, who is also chairman of the Market Traders Committee, said the market was a community and it was nice to be back.
She added: “Some traders were a bit anxious about coming back but I think the next month or so it will fill up with more traders.
“It’s a nice open space and nice and airy, so it does not feel confined.”
At Small Spice and Herbs, Dee Woods, husband of regular stallholder Tina Woods, said many of their regulars had already returned to visit the stall after the enforced absence of lockdown.
At silver and gemstone jewellery stall Rogus Rocks, trader Mark Girdler said it was nice to be back but it was going to be a difficult period initially until more traders returned.
He said: “I think a lot of the traders are those that are here week in, week out, but I think if everyone realises that we are all here together , it will generate a better market.”
He said he thought the council could have done a bit more to encourage the market, such as a reduction in stall fees, but he appreciated it was a difficult time.
Passmore’s Fish and Game has never been far away, setting up its mobile stall in the road outside during lockdown.
Fishmonger Nathan Townsend said: “We are always busy regardless, people come every week, same time, same place.
“I think it’s going to be difficult, especially for the older generation, certainly they are staying in.”