‘Ecstatic’ traders told of their relief as the popular Quayside Market returned to Newcastle for the first time since December.
The weekly outdoor market has been unable to open so far this year due to coronavirus lockdown measures, but made a welcome comeback on Sunday.
While the popular weekly event will only be able to operate at 50% capacity to start with, news of its comeback came as a massive relief to its collection of local, independent traders .
Leslir Armstrong from Scented Melts said she was “absolutely ecstatic to be back”.
“We opened the shop at the Grainger Market on Monday but we’re over the moon that they managed to get the Quayside open today,” she said.
“Newcastle City Council are doing a fantastic job of organising the event.
“Hopefully we’ll see returning customers, we’ve already had some regulars back.
“It’s nice to see people and be out in the fresh air.”
Another happy stallholder was Sue Boyle from Puppy Sue’s K9 Kitchen, who said: “You can’t imagine what it’s like to be back – it’s been nearly six months of no trade.
“Although it’s every other week, it doesn’t matter because at least now my customers know they can come down, or order online and pick it up here.
It’s just fantastic, and the weather has brought people out.
“Hopefully when we get to the next stage we’ll have the tourists come back because it increases footfall.”
Social distancing restrictions mean that the market will only have room for half of its usual traders, with businesses allowed to trade on alternate weeks at the 60 stalls.
Security marshals will be told to disperse crowds if the market gets too busy on Sunday and shoppers are being told that they must wear a face covering and are encouraged to use hand sanitiser stations at the site.
Traders were dismayed when the Quayside Market was closed by Newcastle City Council last September, with civic centre bosses claiming it was “not possible to ensure Covid-secure protocols” at the outdoor market.
It was allowed to return in December, trading on Saturdays and Sundays in the run-up to Christmas, but was then shut down again when the third national lockdown came into force.
From this week, the Quayside Market will be open between 9am and 4pm each Sunday.
Commenting on its return earlier this week, Michelle Percy, the council’s director of place, said: “The Quayside Market is one of the iconic features of our great city, and we know how tough it has been for traders with their businesses being significantly impacted by Covid-19.
“It’s been fantastic to see the buzz returning to the city as more and more businesses have been able to reopen, and the Quayside Market is certainly a welcome addition in terms of supporting the reopening of our city.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing its return, and just ask that visitors be careful in and around the stalls and remember that the virus still poses a significant threat to our communities.
“We’ve been working with traders to make sure the market is as safe as possible, and hope everyone else is as excited for its return as we are.”