SALISBURY Charter Market will once again return to the city centre on Saturday, after sucessfully passing the council's three tests.

Organised by Salisbury City Council, the market trialled its return last weekend after the Covid-19 pandemic caused its closure back in March.

Around 15 food stalls were lined up in the Market Place, offering a range of produce from fruit and honey to cheese and meats.

Social distancing measures were enforced through restricted access, barriers, a one-way system, hand sanitiser distribution, the encouragement of cashless payments and city council staff on site.

Around 900 shoppers attended and some food stalls sold out of produce by lunchtime.

Following the trial, leader of Salisbury City Council Jeremy Nettle said: “The council has thought long and hard about reinstating the charter market since its closure at the beginning of lockdown at the end of March. 

“Interestingly the charter market that goes back to 1227 has been open during the great wars of our time so rarely has it been closed for such a long period of time.

“The council’s decision to open the market last Saturday, to provide essential foods as a trial with a new secure fenced-in layout, was based on current Government guidance, along with discussions with traders and other city stakeholders, such as the local police.”

Councillor Nettle added that the authority had set itself three tests it needed to pass in anticipation for the market’s permanent return.

The tests included: could public safety and the two metre social distancing rule be adhered to both in queues and at stalls? Are social distancing and personal protective equipment levels maintained at stalls? Did residents feel safe in the new layout and therefore demand for the market clear?

It has been confirmed by the council that all three tests were satisfied and the charter market will return every Saturday, from 8am until 3pm, with the same social distancing measures in place.

The Wilton Wholefoods stall said: “I was really impressed with the way the council had organised the day, the fact that we were really busy even though customers were coming through the gates fairly slowly.

“I would like to say that customers were so pleased to be able to shop 'in person' again. Customers told me that the measures that had been put in place made them feel safe and that the council was trying to do things in the right way.

“Overall, I’d say it ticked all the boxes and as a stallholder we couldn’t have asked for more.”

Cllr Nettle described the feedback from traders and shoppers as “extremely positive”.

He added: “They were very satisfied with the all the safety precautions in place and very pleased to see the return of the charter market.”