LYMINGTON market has been cancelled until further notice as the town council locks down a range of facilities in an effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
The historic market, which dates back to the 13th century, will not go ahead tomorrow (Saturday) after the government drastically tightened restrictions on public activity and told people to try to stay at home.
The Italia Festival on 5th July has also been stopped. The popular annual event was due to draw crowds to the town with a display of Ferraris and Italian themed food, drink and stall.
Also closed in Lymington and Pennington are Woodside public toilets, all playgrounds, the skate park, tennis courts and the open air gym.
Allotments will remain open to their tenants, as the council said government advice is that they count as exercise and social distancing can be managed.
Public notices have been displayed in all town council parks and larger open spaces advising the latest government requirements.
According to the latest figures from Public Health England, there were 207 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Hampshire County Council area yesterday morning (Tuesday), and 14 in the BCP Council area.
Across the UK there had been a total of 422 deaths and 8,077 confirmed cases – a daily increase of 1,427.
The authority came under fire for holding the market last Saturday but said at the time it was following advice from National Association of British Markets, and had told at-risk traders to stay at home.
Government guidance at the weekend was for the public to “avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces”, although it had not ordered markets and shops to close.
On Monday town councillor Jack Davies told the A&T he was “shocked” that the event went ahead. He said: “The government advice is to avoid all but essential social contact and stay two metres apart from people.”
Market traders have been informed of the closure and pitch fees have been waived, said the town council in a statement. Updates will be posted on www.lymingtonmarket.co.uk.
Christchurch’s weekly market ran as normal on Monday, sparking criticism from residents on Facebook.
Some people argued the High Street fixture should not continue amid the Covid-19 pandemic, while some believed it was no different to visiting a local supermarket for supplies.
Pictures were posted showing several shoppers, including elderly people, perusing the stalls on Monday.
“What part of getting some fresh air and sunshine do people interpret as go down town and mill about with other people at market stalls?” one person asked.
The A&T contacted BCP Council about Christchurch market, but no response was received by the time of going to press.
New Milton’s weekly Wednesday market in Station Road is currently due to continue, but town clerk Graham Flexman told the A&T this would be a food market only, providing fresh produce.
Mr Flexman added this was in line with new guidelines released by the government which stated market stalls offering “essential retail, such as grocery and food” were exempt from the closure orders.