Market traders ‘straining at the leash’ to return to work ahead of social distancing talks

Norwich Market, pictured before lockdown. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich Market, pictured before lockdown. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The chairman of the city’s market traders association has said stallholders are “straining at the leash” to return to work ahead of meetings over social distancing.

On Monday, Mark Wright, chairman of Norwich Market Traders Association, said the body and Norwich City Council were working on a plan for the market to iron out shared concerns over how its narrow aisles would facilitate the government’s social distancing rules.

Made up in a grid layout, many of the market’s alleys measure roughly two metres wide, meaning that queues forming at market stalls, and particularly those opposite each other, could be problematic.

And speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday morning, he said he had a meeting on Wednesday with Matthew Packer, city council cabinet member with responsibility for the market, and another virtual meeting with market managers later in the week.

“[The market is a] grid of lanes,” he said, “and there are fixed stalls, so social distancing really is the main thing we’re worried about, how we can trade and keep people safe.

“[Traders are] absolutely desperate to be back, straining at the leash. We’re all desperate to come back now... It is a worry that people won’t be able to recover from this.”

Mr Packer has described the market as one of the “jewels in the city’s crown”, and said they were “actively working on plans” to figure out how the market could reopen.