In a step toward normalcy, two popular Seattle farmers markets — the University District and Ballard markets — will reopen this weekend, but with new rules, and a request that shoppers take an oath.

The markets, which had been closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the University District; and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday in Ballard.

The Ballard market will open primarily as a “drive-through” with pre-orders encouraged as much as possible, though walk-up customers will still have the option to shop, market organizers said.

The reopenings are part of a partnership among the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA), Public Health Seattle-King County, the city of Seattle, and Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office.

“Our shared concern is for everyone’s health and safety during COVID-19, and we need you to do your part while supporting our local farmers,” the NFMA said in a statement. “The highest priority is everyone’s ability to practice and enforce social distancing and ensure 100% compliance by NFM staff, vendors and shoppers on all fronts.

“We are in this together.”

The NFMA made various modifications to the markets in order to reopen:

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  • Modified layouts to ensure 6 feet to 10 feet between vendor booths to allow for greater circulation and distance.
  • Limited market entrances to control capacity and foot traffic.
  • Hand sanitizer provided at Market Manager tents, with public hand washing stations available in the markets.
  • No sampling or prepared food until further notice.
  • No music, entertainment, cooking demos, or public seating areas.

The NFMA reminded shoppers of “the important duty of displaying excellent behavior in and around the markets.”

It suggested that shoppers make a list before going to the market; pre-order and prepay from vendors, if possible; designate one shopper per household; bring reusable bags, but know you will be the only one touching them, and stay home if you are sick or if you’ve been in contact with someone who is sick.

Service dogs are permitted, but other pets must be left at home.

At the market, shoppers are asked to maintain 6 feet of space at all time, and look for physical cues like tape, chalk, and signs.

They are also reminded to wash their hands with soap and water, and use hand-washing stations throughout the market. Hand sanitizer will be available at the manager’s tent.

Do not touch the products. “The vendors will help you,” the NFMA statement said.

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Shoppers are also asked to shop “quickly and efficiently.”

“This isn’t the time to chat,” the statement said. “Big smiles welcome!”

While it is “energized and excited” about reopening a modified market this weekend, the NFMA said it is unable to offer selling space to all vendors. So it has established The Good Farmer Fund to provide immediate assistance to vendors scheduled to sell during March and April. The fund is an effort to stabilize food and farm businesses so they can prepare for the future reopening of farmers markets.

The NFMA will offer multiple rounds of Resiliency Relief grants during April and May, in response to COVID-19 market closures.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct date for the Ballard market.

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