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Hackney Council tells market traders to close stalls unless they sell essential items

PUBLISHED: 16:35 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:46 23 March 2020

Broadway Market on Saturday, March 21. Picture: Andy Commons

Broadway Market on Saturday, March 21. Picture: Andy Commons

AndyCommons2020

Hackney’s market traders have been asked to suspend trading unless they sell food or essential household items after huge crowds flocked to stalls over the weekend.

Ridley Road and Broadway Market were both crowded on Saturday with people ignoring the social distancing guidance of being two metres apart. Photos circulating on social media caused outraged people to call for them to be closed.

Others have pointed out grocery stalls were providing a vital service and selling goods cheaper than supermarkets.

Hackney mayor Phil Glanville said: “Markets, like other shops, still have a role to play providing essential local supplies, but social distancing must be applied and respected. Going out to a market or park can no longer be seen as a leisure activity, where people linger.”

The council has suspended payments from traders affected and says it will continue to support them throughout the lockdown period.

Broadway Market on Saturday, March 21. Picture: Andy CommonsBroadway Market on Saturday, March 21. Picture: Andy Commons

Chair of Ridley Road Market Traders’ Association Larry Julian, who has postponed his retirement to help the market through the crisis, said the plan was to space out the market stalls to help with the two metre social distancing guidance.

“I’m not saying it will solve the problem but until the government moves the goalposts again it’s the best way forward and people can still buy the essential goods they need,” he said. “People need the market to survive.”

Asked for his thoughts on people ignoring the guidance and the size of crowds both at Ridley Road and Broadway Markets, Larry added: “To be truthful I think it’s crazy. I still believe people don’t realise how serious this is. It’s frightening and will carry on until the government puts the country in lockdown.

“People need to take responsibility. It only takes one person to shop for a household. Why are people walking around in groups of threes and fours?”

Photographer Andy Commons passed Broadway Market on Saturday on his way to the shop. He said: “I understand traders need to make money in uncertain times but really wasn’t expecting it to be so busy. I think it’s a bit irresponsible and Hackney [Council] should have stopped it.”

People also complained to Hackney Council about Columbia Road Flower Market and the farmers market in Victoria Park, but both are in Tower Hamlets.

For the latest council updates on coronavirus, including for people or businesses needing support, click here.

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