BCAFM Response to COVID-19 & Resources

BCAFM Response

BCAFM continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic closely and provide updates as they relate to farmers’ markets and our members. Please find below our official updates.

The BCCDC has officially updated their position and have now included a farmers’ market page on their website. This page shares the updated measures required to modify your markets (which are subject to change) to comply with BCCDC direction and the recommendations and orders from the Provincial Health Officer (PHO), including physical distancing, restricted activities, enhanced hygiene, and other measures.

Very important is the following market modification: Markets may sell ONLY FOOD which includes fresh, frozen and prepared foods, food carts, liquor.

Additionally, the BCCDC webpage replaces the previous BCCDC letter shared, but the BCCCDC initial position on the following still stands:

“Farmers’ markets are not currently considered a high risk setting for the transmission of COVID-19. Farmers markets’ are usually held outdoors and there are usually a limited number of people in any one area at the same time.”

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We are delighted to share today’s press release from the Ministry of Agriculture in regards to supporting markets going virtual through our BC Farmers’ Markets Online initiative.

“The B.C. government is providing $55,000 to the BCAFM to cover fees for individual farmers markets to join the online platform and set up their digital market store presence. Each participating farmers market will create its own virtual market store to best serve its communities.

The funding is part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Buy BC program. Buy BC helps farmers, ranchers and producers market their products as locally grown, raised, harvested or produced, making it easy for British Columbians to Buy BC.”

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Read below the except of today’s Joint statement on Province of B.C.’s COVID-19 response:

“We know that our community and farmers markets are an important source of fresh food. We are heartened that, with the support of funding from the provincial government, many markets are shifting to an online model. We remind market organizers that a public gathering order is in place and physical distancing measures must be followed.

“Further, to reduce the potential for transmission and ensure local, B.C.-grown food can continue to reach customers, a provincial health officer order has been issued, effective immediately.

“All occasional/recurring/weekly events where food and other merchandise is sold (e.g., markets, street markets, night markets, Saturday markets or community markets) must only allow vendors that sell food to be at these events. Vendors of non-food items and all other merchandise are prohibited to sell at these events.

Farmers’ markets have been declared an essential service by the Government of BC. These services include under retail: grocery stores, convenience stores, and farmers markets.

“Essential services are those daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning.

They are the services British Columbians rely on in their daily lives. Developed by Emergency Management BC in consultation with other government ministries and the provincial health officer (PHO), this definition is intended to clarify what qualifies as an essential service in the context of the Province’s response to COVID-19. In consultation with the PHO, these services should and are encouraged to remain open.”

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) have been in contact with the regional health authorities to discuss BCAFM’s concern over farmers’ markets that are on municipal lands and their decisions to cancel individual market locations. As these are municipal decisions, public health will not interfere with those local decisions. The BCCDC encourages us, the BCAFM, and the farmers’ markets to continue the discussion at the municipality level. If the municipality has any public health questions, they can reach out to their local health authority as needed.

BCAFM will be monitoring the different measures taken by farmers’ markets, and will update its online webpages as the situation evolves. Please continue sharing with us the measures you are taking at your market via email at info@bcfarmersmarket.org to share information, questions and concerns that are relevant to all member farmers’ markets.

As we continue to help our members respond to COVID-19, we would first like to reiterate that farmers’ markets are first and foremost food retail establishments for people to purchase food while supporting local farmer and producer livelihoods. Generally held outdoors, they are not considered a high risk for transmission.

In response to the progressing situation, BCAFM has created a COVID Task Force with staff and board to meet regularly. This will ensure that we can meet the needs of our members and provide support as the issue evolves. We remain in contact with the Province of BC and BC Centre for Disease Control to continue providing updates, tools, and resources (see below).

We strongly believe in the value of farmers’ markets to BC communities and the local food system, especially in these times of uncertainty. Which is why we are inspired by the innovative approaches markets and their vendors are exploring to ensure that residents will be able to continue to access fresh, healthy, local food, such as online pre-ordering, encouraging shorter market visits, and delivery.

While we do not have all the answers, we encourage you to reach out to us if you have any questions, concerns or wish to share ideas or stories of how your farmers’ market is making important adjustments to continue providing food in its community. We can be reached at info@bcfarmersmarket.org. Collectively, we will come through stronger on the other side of this.

As our markets operate exclusively in British Columbia, BCAFM will take cues and guidance on COVID-19 from the most relevant sources including the Province of BC and the Federal Government of Canada.

The vast majority of BCAFM member markets will launch the 2020 season beginning this May onwards, however, there are number of markets currently operating today during the shoulder season. Things are shifting day by day and we all need to be proactive now and prepare for what could be a more challenging farmers market season.

Resources

The situation is evolving every day, and we also understand that you may have questions on the impacts this might have and where you can get the support you need. While we do not have all the answers, we encourage you to explore the resources below, and get in touch with us if there is something not addressed here or if you have stories to share.

We will update the following information as the situation evolves.

General Resources from Authorities on COVID-19

For more information and latest updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC and read more on their website.

Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control webpage

 

 

 

 

The BC Pandemic Provincial Co-ordination Plan details the preparations and comprehensive toolkit to respond to the evolving outbreak. This will be an ongoing resource for the province.

Read about BC COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and planning

Download the province of BC COVID19 Hand Hygiene Poster

 

In an effort to allow 811 health-care professionals to support more people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who require assistance with other health issues, the Province has created a dedicated phone service to provide British Columbians non-medical information about COVID-19. This includes the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing, as well as access to support and resources from the provincial and federal governments.

British Columbians can reach service representatives seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., by calling 1.888.COVID19. Information is available in more than 110 languages.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada’s people, environment and economy. Of note, their website states: “Scientists and food safety authorities across the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.”

Read MOre from the CFIA: COVID-19 & Food Safety

Other Resources

BC Farmers’ Market operators and vendors will are actively modifying their market operations in accordance with the direction set by the Provincial Health Officer and BC Centre for Disease Control. They will also continue to operate using FOODSAFE and MarketSafe best practices, as prescribed by provincial health authorities.

Visit our Modifying Farmers’ Market Operations page to learn more about how BCAFM member farmers’ markets are actively modifying their operations to prioritize health and safety for all while continuing to provide fresh, local food.

Government of BC

The Government of BC announced on March 23, 2020 the COVID-19 Action Plan to provide support to individuals and business.

“The COVID-19 Action Plan is government’s first step to provide relief to people and businesses in British Columbia. The plan dedicates $2.8 billion to help people and fund the services they need to weather the crisis; $2.2 billion will provide relief to businesses and help them recover after the outbreak.” – Government of BC News Release March 23, 2020

COVID-19 action plan press release & information

Government of Canada

On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses. This includes a temporary wage subsidy for employers.

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

Government of Canada: Resources for Canadian Businesses (COVID-19)

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA: CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) – EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AND SERVICES

Government of Canada: Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers

Small Business BC

Small Business BC and the BC government Small Business Branch have prepared a checklist of considerations that small businesses can use to help minimize the impacts of COVID-19 to their employees and operations. You can learn more and share on Facebook and Twitter.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY & COVID-19 CHECKLIST: KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN BC

Small Business BC is also maintaining a webpage with links to current information and relevant private sector articles on COVID-19 considerations for business. Small Business BC advisors are ready to answer entrepreneurs’ questions about implementing or updating business continuity plans, accessing the Talk to an Expert program, or finding online training to help them take the next step.

Small Business BC: COVID-19 Resources for Small Business

BDC

BDC has put in place measures to provide relief for Canadian entrepreneurs. Learn more below.

BDC: Support for entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19

BDC: Business Continuity Plan and Template for Entrepreneurs

The provincial government has announced supports for individuals and businesses.

Government of BC: Financial Supports in Response to COVID-19

The federal government has announced supports through Employment Insurance and other measures.

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

Government of Canada: EI, Labour Program, Work-Sharing Program

Last updated: March 30, 2020

Non-Medical Support for COVID-19

The province has created phone service to provide non-medical information about COVID-19, including the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing. Information is available in more than 110 languages, 7:30 am - 8 pm at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) or via text message at 604-630-0300. You can also visit their COVID-19 Provincial Support and Information website.

Visit the Provincial Website
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