Covered Market set to reopen with new temporary social distancing measures

Published: Wednesday, 10th June 2020

Oxford Covered Market is set to reopen on Monday 15 June with a comprehensive range of measures to enable people to maintain social distancing.

The market, which is managed by Oxford City Council, has been closed to the public during the coronavirus lockdown, although a number of traders have continued to use it to distribute deliveries.

From next week the Government will allow some non-essential shops to reopen – providing they implement measures to meet social distancing and hygiene standards.

The City Council has been guided by national policy in reopening the Covered Market.

The Covered Market is a much loved community asset and the City Council is focused on reopening it to support over 50 small independent traders and their customers. We are entering an important next phase of the economic recovery and the reopening of the market is a critical step in helping traders restart their businesses.    

It is up to individual traders to decide when they want to reopen, but it is expected that all fresh produce businesses with a selection of non-food traders will open next week.

Working with traders to ensure social distancing

The City Council has been working alongside Covered Market traders over recent weeks to prepare for the reopening and make sure shoppers can travel through the market while maintain social distancing.

As a result of these discussions, the City Council will be trialing a range of new measures to help shoppers maintain social distancing:

  • Two entrances will be open. One on Market Street, and one on High Street. The other seven entrances to the market will be closed
  • Stewards will be positioned on each entrance to ensure the levels of shoppers in the market remain at a number that allows social distancing
  • There will be a third steward placed inside the market to act as a Social Distancing Champion. Their role will be to liaise with the stewards at each entrance to manage the flow of optimum numbers throughout the market and give guidance to the public where needed.
  • A one-way system will be introduced around the market, similar to the systems now used in supermarkets
  • Markings will be installed along the avenues to explain the one-way system and indicate two-metre distances
  • All advertising A-boards, tables, chairs, bicycle racks and other obstacles will be removed from the avenues to allow shoppers more space to maintain social distancing
  • Hand sanitisers will be available at each entrance, plus our traders have been encouraged to offer customers access to hand sanitisers within their premises
  • The High Street entrance that includes The Varsity Club will be used for people to queue to access the market. Queues on Market Street will be restricted to 4/5 people at the widest part of the pavement
  • An enhanced cleaning regime, including cleaning of the public toilets in Market Street, trader toilets, and a deep clean of the whole market at the end of each day, will be introduced

The City Council has been working with traders to incorporate the latest Government guidance and to make their units as safe as possible for shoppers

Traders are required to follow the Government guidelines. These measures include:

  • Restricting the number of people inside the unit to enable people to maintain social distancing
  • Leaving doors open so shoppers do not have to touch door handles
  • Providing hand sanitisers where necessary

Traders’ opening hours

Trading hours will currently be Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm. These hours will be reviewed on a weekly basis with a view to returning to normal as soon as possible. The opening hours of individual traders are likely to vary.

The public will be able to keep up to date with which traders are open, and their opening times, via boards at the market entrance points, and the Covered Market’s social media and website.

Restaurants and cafes could open next month

The Covered Market’s restaurants and cafes, following Government guidance, will remain closed. However some smaller establishments may be able to open for take away only.

The Government has indicated that these businesses could reopen from early July.

Disabled access to the Covered Market

The City Council has been holding workshops with disabled people to ensure that new measures, including in the Covered Market, are as inclusive as possible.

The aim is to ensure that the Covered Market remains at least as accessible to disabled people as it is currently.

Wider work to support traders in Oxford city centre

The City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, the transport authority for Oxford, are working together on a range of measures to enable pedestrians and cyclists to safely maintain social distances.

These include new bike parking, segregated cycle lanes, wider footpaths, pedestrianising roads, and zones for outdoor tables and chairs.

The City Council has committed £234,000 to kick start work on the measures in Oxford, while the County Council has committing further funding to Oxford as part of £2.9m of improvements to cycling and pedestrian infrastructure across Oxfordshire.

The City Council is also following the High Streets Task Force’s 10 key objectives to support the recovery of high streets, which includes reallocating road space to enable social distancing, stewarding, consistent signage, enhanced cleaning, inclusive design, identifying pinch points, and communicating with businesses. 

“Since the lockdown began the Covered Market has been a source of truly inspiring trader stories that have not only involved sudden adaption, but have also clearly demonstrated just how much they care about the community they are part of.

“As a regular shopper at the market, this has made me even more passionate about what this incredible market has to offer. I have been getting my deliveries from Bonners, Cardews and others over the last few months, but I am very much looking forward to going back inside the market and seeing friends again.

“Over recent weeks we have been working closely with traders to redesign the way the market works to help shoppers and traders maintain social distancing. The market is going to look very different when it reopens, and I would ask people to keep their distance and look after each other when they do return, but it is our passion and resolve to start to the process and ensure the market has a better and even stronger future.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for City Centre, Covered Market and Culture