STREET markets are making a comeback along the Spanish Costas for the first time since the coronavirus crisis lockdown came into force in mid-March, but the noisy hustle and bustle has been replaced by social distancing and strict controls.
The country’s open-air markets are allowed to open under Phase one of the de-escalation and are reappearing in towns and villages on the Costa Almeria and in parts of the Costa Blanca, which are already a week into this first step of the lockdown easing. Malaga and the Costa del Sol and Granada join them tomorrow, Monday.
However government regulations aimed at preventing coronavirus infection, while essential, have inevitably taken a lot of the fun out of the street market shopping experience.
To begin with only a quarter of each market’s authorised number of stalls are permitted and only one-third the usual number of market-goers are allowed to be in the market area at any one time.
In some cases local councils have had to move the markets from their traditional locations, often lining narrow streets, to areas with a lot more open space, but considerably less character.
The area where the stalls are set up are cordoned off, and police and Guardia Civil officers keep controls on the number of people going in and out.
Stalls have to be set up in lines and well-separated. Stallholders have to follow a whole bunch of health and safety measures, from wearing gloves and masks and disinfecting their hands between serving customers to installing screens as physical separations from themselves and shoppers, and frequently cleaning and disinfecting everything.
Market-goers are supposed to keep well apart and not to mill about, but rather to follow clearly marked out directions.
For now the products on offer are limited to food items and basic essentials. Self-service or touching anything on display is a no-no.