By Kelly Wickham
Residents in the city have expressed their outrage after the district council allowed their street market to go ahead despite strict new measures by central government.
Chichester District Council had posted on their Facebook page that the market would take place, albeit with only food stalls being set up.
It said: The Cattle Market car boot sale held on Sundays is cancelled until further notice.
“Chichester’s Wednesday and Saturday markets: only food stalls will be present until further notice, as a result of the coronavirus. Extra precautions and social distancing measures will be in place.”
However, photographs posted on social media caused concern among residents who commented on people in groups and standing close together.
The outrage among residents comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on Monday evening with new strict rules on staying at home.
The advice was to only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home), to stay two metres away from other people and to wash your hands as soon as you get home.
A spokesman for Chichester District Council said on Wednesday: “The government has specifically said that food markets and only food markets can still take place as they are an important part of the food supply chain.
“Only five food stalls were out at the market today. All had significant space between them and there were cones showing the distance that people needed to keep in between them.”
“There was also hand gel and signeage offering people social distancing advice. We had also given the market operator information on the necessary hygiene precautions they must take and precautions needed to meet social distancing rules. However, we do understand people’s concerns and we are reviewing the situation.”
Previously, guidance to remain indoors and socially distant was not heeded by some people.
Last weekend, national news broadcasters widely reported people enjoying holiday destinations, parks and sites locally, including West Wittering beach, which has since closed its car park.
Expressing their views on Facebook, people’s comments included: “So irresponsible but until the government change their language and stop being so blasé about this, people are just not going to take it seriously. I’ve been ill for two weeks and trust me, no one wants to get this, especially those in the vulnerable category. Absolutely ridiculous to have open stalls like this.”
Another Facebook user said: “I just don’t get it – it’s encouraging people to go out.”
Others disagreed, saying: “We are allowed to take a walk, buy food and go out in the sunshine. What’s the problem?”
Another comment was: “This could ever be interpreted in different ways, shopping, daily exercise – if you are in the same household you can go out together. They are not gathered, they are moving.”
In response to the tougher restrictions being brought in, the city’s MP, Mrs Gillian Keegan said: “So far, we have seen this crisis bring out the best in us, but some people are risking the safety of others by failing to act on medical advice.
“The advice is clear, stay at home. If, and when, you do have to leave home, socially distance yourself as much as possible.
“Many people have written in to express their concern that people are heading to the area to stay in their second homes or holiday destinations.
“Again, the government has been clear that people should remain at their primary residence and not travel unless absolutely necessary.
“I understand why people would rather isolate here in West Sussex, but, we are all making sacrifices as a country, to protect one another and most importantly, support the NHS.
“Once this virus has passed, I know our communities will be closer, and as a country, we will be stronger. Thank you to everyone doing their part by staying home, volunteering in our community or key workers working on the front line.”