Farmers Market COVID-19: Best Practices

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Across the Commonwealth, farmers markets are an essential service within many communities like grocery stores and other food retail outlets. They provide direct access to food for community members and a substantial part of the incomes of thousands of Kentucky farmers. As Commissioner Quarles has stated :

Now, more than ever, we need to empower Kentucky’s consumers to choose food produced by Kentucky’s farm families… Because farmers’ markets are retail enterprises that provide agriculturally-produced food products that consumers need, the Governor’s Order does not require you to shut down your farmers’ market.

Kentucky department of agriculture, Commissioner quarles’s letter to farmers markets regarding covid-19. March 19, 2020

GUIDE FOR FARMERS MARKET OPERATIONS IN THE TIME OF COVID-19:This comprehensive guide was created by CFA’s Farmers Market Support Program team to offer guidance to your market for keeping everyone safe and healthy within your market space. CFA FMSP will be regularly updating this manual so please check back to this resource page for the latest information. Also available in a word document. Last update: 5/10/21

Special Directives for Farmers Markets from the Center for Disease Control

Considerations for Outdoor Farmers Markets from the CDC: National guidelines for outdoor farmers markets.

Special Directives from the State Of Kentucky

  • 5/13/21: Masks for Vaccinated Adults Lifted: The commonwealth will immediately follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that fully vaccinated Kentuckians no longer need to wear a mask in most places.
  • 4/26/21: Masks No Longer Mandated for Outside Events of 1000 people or fewer Based on recent studies and Kentucky’s increasing number of vaccinations, the statewide mask mandate will no longer be in effect when Kentuckians are outside at events or venues with 1,000 people or fewer. Masks are still recommended (just not mandated) at outdoor events with 1,000 people or fewer, and the mask mandate is still in effect when Kentuckians are indoors or at any outdoor event with more than 1,000 people.
  • 4/19/21: Healthy at Work Minimum Requirements for All Entities Update
  • 1/11/21: Vaccine Rollout and Kentucky Farmers Markets as Front Line Essential Workers: According to the definition from the Department of Kentucky Public Health, those who work in agriculture are considered front line essential workers and have priority in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in phase 1-C of the vaccine rollout. Click here for more information about how you can receive a vaccine in your area.
  • 7/9/20: Executive Order: Face Coverings. “People in Kentucky must cover their nose and mouth with a face-covering…while in outdoor spaces in which the person cannot maintain a physical distance of 6th feet from all individuals who are not members of the person’s household and is not otherwise covered by previously issued guidance.” Business owners should continue to uphold the minimum requirements set forth in the “KY Healthy at Work” order.
  • 6/02/20: The “one person per household” rule is rescinded: The Cabinet For Health and Family Services, Department for Public Health has now lifted the “one person per household” rule. There is no longer a legal limit to how many people per household can shop at the farmers market. Other social distancing and health protection measures required by the “Healthy at Work” executive order as detailed in the “KDA guidance Minimum Requirements for Kentucky’s Direct Farm Marketing Operations” remain in place.
  • 5/11/20: Executive Order: Healthy at Work: Minimum Requirements for all public-facing businesses. Also see below guidance “Minimum Requirements for Kentucky’s Direct Farm Marketing Operations” for requirements specifically for farmers markets.

Kentucky Department Of Agriculture (KDA)

Pre-Order and On-line Sales Options:

Safely Setting up your Farmers Market

Guidance and Handbooks:

Cleaning and Disinfection:


  • The CDC recommends wearing face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
  • Face Mask Requirements and the Americans with Disabilities Act: This new Farmers Market Legal Toolkit factsheet from the Center for Ag & Food Systems at Vermont Law School, helps market operators create face mask policies in the context of state and local mask mandates and the Americans with Disabilities Act. And it outlines what to do—and what not to do—if someone approaches your market without a mask.


Examples of social distancing at your farmers market:

Shop on-site, one-touch

Emergency Funding for Farmers Markets

Other Resources for Farmers Markets & COVID-19