Fencing has been installed around the market since New Year’s Day to prevent it being used as a spot for “night time gatherings and drinking."TALBOT_ROSEMARY/TWITTER

Cambridge City Council hopes to reopen the market “for essential trade,” according to an announcement on Wednesday (06/01), after being fenced off since New Year’s Day.

The move by the City Council aims to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the city after concerns were raised about “an excessive number of people” gathering in the city centre despite “stay at home” regulations. This has meant that essential traders, such as those selling food and drink who would have been able to continue operating under government regulations, were forced to close their stalls.   

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre highlighted some of the additional measures which are likely to be put in place in order to ensure that the market is able to reopen in the safest possible manner. She suggested that the number of pitches for traders will be restricted to ensure that social distancing measures can be followed, and a system introduced to ensure “all traders who want to are able to trade at some point.” 

Moore also drew attention to how the change in nationwide restrictions has affected City Council decisions, as the implementation of a national lockdown from last Monday (04/01) “must mean that fewer people will venture into the city centre,” therefore increasing the chances that the market will be able to reopen safely.

This update comes after a reaction of outrage to the market closure from locals and stallholders alike. One petition to reopen the market has collected over 6,000 signatures in the last week, with many locals highlighting how shopping in the market had felt like the “safest” option for them. Stallholder Julia Cox told Varsity of “the massive negative impact” the closure will have on her business.

Liberal Democrat opposition councillors have also criticised the “delays and confusion” caused by the City Council, releasing a statement calling on the councillors to end the “dither and delay” and recommending that the market “reopen immediately with improved management.” Their representative, Cllr Anthony Martinelli, commented on the current lack of “plan or timeline for reopening the market” and pushed for using the city’s Covid-19 marshals “more effectively.”


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Referring to a local petition created by the Liberal Democrats after the initial closure announcement, Martinelli remarked that “the 1500 people who have signed our petition over the last five days clearly agree that the more open air shopping spaces that are available to residents at the moment, the better,” highlighting again the concerns that the market closure is removing a potentially “safer” way of shopping than using indoor shops.

Cllr Moore defended the council’s initial decision, stating “I do believe that it was right to prioritise public health and to do what we can to prevent the transmission of the virus [through the closure of the market].”

Moore further said that “I know that this has been very difficult for traders, coming after a challenging year and I am very sorry for them.” She emphasised that traders will be updated about the process for reopening and that packages of support for traders will also be updated in light of the closure. 

Moore also drew attention to the public health emergency which Cambridge is currently facing, reminding shoppers of increasing infection rates and encouraging people to “come out only when essential, and shop locally where you can.”

Other measures are currently in place to prevent public congregations, with fencing recently installed on King’s Parade to encourage social distancing and also prevent late night gatherings.

Rates of COVID-19 in Cambridgeshire have increased rapidly over Christmas with a total of 4,203 new cases recorded across the past seven days (as of 07/01). 

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