VERA Council reported a good turnout for the scaled down version of its open-air market, despite expat doubts as to whether it’s currently worth making the effort to go to what have always been such a popular feature of Spanish everyday life.
Until the Covid-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, picking up bits and pieces from the lines of stalls filling the streets of Vera every Saturday morning or from one of the many other outdoor markets held in towns and villages across the region was a part of many expats’ weekly routines.
The lockdown put a stop to them all until Almeria entered Phase one of the lockdown de-escalation a week and a half ago. They are now beginning to start up again, but have to comply with a series of government measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
This means a quarter of the usual number of stalls and with only food products and basics on sale, as well as strict controls on shopper numbers and enforcement of social distancing and hygiene precautions.
“Had a look at ours. Hardly worth it, one in, one out, no atmosphere,” commented Jill Swain on social media.
“Feel sorry for those selling, but time doesn’t seem to be right,” was Roberta Taylor’s views.
Others are more concerned about possible risks.
“Feel it’s too soon to mix with people I don’t know,” posted Brian Rae.
It was a view echoed by Lynne French, who said, “Would love to support them, but I’m afraid it’s too soon,” and Lauren Bain, who commented, “Not yet – too early,” and by quite a few others.
But clearly not everyone shares these views.
Vera Markets councillor Miguel Angel Martinez revealed that 1,350 people turned out for the Saturday market, now held in the spacious Paseo Miguel de Cervantes instead of the town centre. The peak hour he said was just after 12 midday when there were 300 there at once.
“We have reached the predicted objectives in terms of maximum permitted capacity, although attendance was better than we expected, given it was the first day of the market in the current situation and with the change of location,” commented local mayor Jose Carmelo Jorge Blanco.
“I would say support them. Market stalls, local shops, local bars,” wrote Tine Ke.
“They need support desperately and – as far as our town is concerned – they are all brilliant in following the rules. And atmosphere is something you create yourself!”