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Coronavirus Update: Sonoma Farmers Market Reopens With New Location, New Rules

SONOMA (KPIX 5) -- A farmers market in the North Bay was undergoing some major changes Tuesday to keep customers safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Combining social distancing with a farmers market is a bit of an experiment. Though there weren't that many people there early on, the changes seemed to be working so far.

There were a number of big changes for the Tuesday Night Plaza Farmers Market in Sonoma. The market isn't being held at the town's picturesque plaza, it is no longer at night, there's no live music and no wine is being served. Out of concerns over COVID-19 restrictions, the city of Sonoma took over running the market and moved it to the parking lot at the Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall.

"It's not quite the most beautiful of spaces but you know, everywhere in Sonoma is pretty beautiful," said Sonoma Mayor Logan Harvey. "This is the most beautiful parking lot in the county, uh, definitely!"

Social distancing requirements necessitated the special lines painted on the asphalt to ensure everyone stays 6 feet apart. There is also a long elaborate cue line that laps back and forth for yards just to get into the market.

Once inside, customers follow the painted path to each vendor who are required to stay 10 feet away from each other.

Farmers Market Manager Chris Welch knows it will be an adjustment for regular shoppers.

"It's going to require a lot of monitoring and helping people figure it out," said Welch.

The market won't be quite as social as it usually was. No hanging out; organizers want customers to get in, get their stuff and get out to reduce the risk of contact that could spread COVID-19.

Still, vendors like Melissa Bucklin with Oak Hill Farms were happy to be back in business.

"So I didn't expect all this, so this is a good sign," said Bucklin.

Another passing neighbor said he was glad to see the set up too

"Given the Corona going on, it brings a little groundedness," he said. "People able to do the things they love."

Another Sonoma farmers market regular waiting in line remembers the old Farmers Market.

"It's usually a party on Tuesdays night. This is a whole new set up for us, but it's going to be nice to get fresh fruits and vegetables," he said.

It may have been relatively slow Tuesday but organizers believe that once word gets out about the new location, that will change.

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