Darwin’s community markets back in business … sort of

By Grace Mackenzie

The Rapid Creek Markets have reopened over the past weekend after a three-week hiatus. Photo: Grace Mackenzie

The Northern Territory’s community markets are set to reopen in the wake of the easing social distancing restrictions.

This is considered a win for not only its consumers but its vendors, who had taken an economic hit after the closures, as many rely on these markets as a main source of income.

However, not every vendor will be allowed to reopen their stalls, as the markets will operate under strict social distancing restrictions for the time being. Take-away food is permitted, though there will be no areas for sitting, nor will home-brought utensils and containers be permitted. Furthermore, social distancing will be required, and handwashing stations will need to be provided by each organisation.

Vendors will also be required to have one gloved staff member solely handling money. Ross Dudgeon, co-ordinator of the Nightcliff Markets, said: “Some stalls only have one or two people serving on their stalls so they will have to try and juggle the food preparation, orders and sales.”

“These restrictions will have effects on our vendors financially and mentally,” he said.

Kylie McCourt, manager of the Parap Village Traders Association, said: “We are trying to learn new ways to operate within the regulations.” The Parap Markets have been closed over the past six weeks but are scheduled to reopen in the next week. Similar to other markets, they will operate their food and fresh produce stalls, but there will be no arts and crafts for the time being.

This leaves a percentage of vendors, including retail wholesaler Emma De Swan, in financial stress. “It will be very difficult without this increase in income over these months as we have just had a very quiet wet season,” she said.

With the Northern Territory’s borders closed for the foreseeable future, income remains uncertain for these operators.

“These are predominately a tourist market and we will have no tourists this year,” De Swan said.

The Nightcliff and Rapid Creek Markets have currently reopened and are operating, with Parap to follow suit on May 9.

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