Hillcrest Farmers Market Returns, But With New Rules

The market was closed five weeks ago after gatherings of more than 250 people were prohibited. Now, non-essential gatherings of any size are banned

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The Hillcrest Farmers Market reopened on Sunday with San Diego Police and County Health officials on-site to ensure safety protocols were in place.

The popular gathering was closed five weeks ago, and it used to attract 10,000 people each weekend.

On Sunday, we got a glimpse into the future of San Diego shopping.   

"Honestly, I am just really excited for something to be happening again and something to do," market neighbor Whitney Love said.

Cinthia Landau also lives nearby, and she shares Whitney's enthusiasm.

"I love it. It is my Sunday ritual," Landau said. But she'll be sitting it out this Sunday.

"Honestly, I don't think I am going to go just to be safe. My mom would probably be really mad at me if I went," Landau said.

Getting the market back open has been a process of gut checks and creating new safety rules.

NBC 7's Dave Summers explains how the reopening is somewhat experimental.

"We don't want you to stay," Hillcrest Business Association Executive Director Benjamin Nichols said. "There is not going to be any entertainment. There is not going to be food vendors or anything like that."

The Hillcrest Business Association is in charge, and Nichols said it would operate the market more like a grocery store.

Visitors are encouraged to wear masks and gloves. There are no food samples or touching the food, and only 50 shoppers will be allowed at a time and proper social distancing will be enforced.

The market was open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the first hour reserved for senior citizens.

At one point, the line was wrapping around the DMV parking lot with eager shoppers waiting six feet apart.

Nichols said they had around 25 vendors compared to 150 they would typically have.

Although it was not a social event it once was, maybe this is the beginning of what shopping has to be to bring business back on its feet.

"That's one of the main reasons we are doing it, is to try to provide an economic outlet for farmers whose produce is really going to waste," Nichols said.

Organizers encouraged customers to come alone, and not to bring family members or pets.

Nichols said this is part “experiment.”

They expect to reopen next weekend.

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