The Whanganui River Markets returning for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown tomorrow.

Annette Main said she and other organisers had held off until now as they wanted to take the most responsible and safe approach.

"We recognise that, despite their desire to return to their favourite Saturday morning outing, people will be looking for comfort that being at the market poses no greater risk than any other public gathering," she said.

"The experience of other events shows us that we can easily manage the movement in and out to each area, by using a one in, one out system and giving a guideline of a 30-minute visit."

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Main said the restrictions meant the market would be smaller than before with around 60 stalls open and would operate in two sections with entrances from Taupo Quay and exits on to the riverbank area.

Cartwheel Creamery from Pohangina will be returning to its regular spot.

"We are really looking forward to it," proprietor Adrian Walcroft said.

"Some of our regular Whanganui customers contacted us at the start of lockdown to inquire about online sales and we've been able to supply them but it is not the same as having that face-to-face contact."

Walcroft said the support of regular customers had been fantastic and helped keep their business going.

"About half of our regular sales are made at markets or wholesale purchases by local restaurants.

"We had produced a lot of soft cheeses in anticipation of selling them at local events which were cancelled due to the pandemic so it was fantastic to be able to move them through online sales."

Dogs are temporarily disallowed from the shopping area although they will be able to join their owners at the riverside. Photo / Lewis Gardner
Dogs are temporarily disallowed from the shopping area although they will be able to join their owners at the riverside. Photo / Lewis Gardner

Main said market organisers had been provided with advice about operating safely in an outdoor public space and had elected to follow the advice of local health authorities and work with the 100 visitor rule in each space at any time.

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"One key temporary change will be that dogs will not be able to be taken into the coned off areas, however, dog owners can still take them on to the larger riverbank area once they have visited their favourite stalls.

"As shoppers leave the coned areas they are encouraged to find something delicious to eat and find a place to catch up with friends and family on the riverbank."

Market-goers are asked to gather in groups of 10 or less and although there will be no seating at stalls organisers have arranged a supply of chairs on-site which can be used in the riverside area.

The market will have the Covid-19 app and QR code for quick contact tracing, as well as physical recording for those who don't have the app loaded.

Main said stallholders would be well prepared with all the measures which have quickly become part of our daily lives.

"We look forward to seeing our market family back and to welcoming both our community and the many visitors to Whanganui for the holiday weekend," Main said.