Local News

Heat makes masks 'unbearable' for some State Farmers Market vendors

Posted July 23, 2020 9:13 p.m. EDT

— State Farmers Market officials are doubling down on efforts to make sure vendors and customers practice social distancing and wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

WRAL News received several complaints from people that people at the farmers market weren’t wearing masks last weekend, but almost everyone had a mask on Thursday.

Monica Wood, director of marketing for the market, blamed the heat for anyone not wearing a mask.

"They're out here working in it all day long, and our vendors have done the absolute best they can to comply," Wood said. "There’s times they may just need to take a breather, just to get that fresh air between customers."

Sommer Godwin, who has worked for Tart’s Strawberry and Produce for 16 years, admitted that, on excruciatingly hot days, someone might catch her without a mask.

"Wearing this mask sometimes in unbearable," Godwin said. "We try to wear them as much as possible, but on the hot days like Monday and Tuesday, it was unbearable, and we didn’t want to pass out. So there would be times that we would take them off."

Wood said everyone has worked hard to make the market safe during the pandemic, from providing vendors with masks and other protective gear to reconfiguring the space to improve traffic patterns.

"There are exceptions [to the mask mandate], and so sometimes, you just have to expect that there may be someone who is not wearing a mask, whether it’s a customer a vendor or an employee," she said.

It isn’t often though, Godwin said, noting that, when she isn’t wearing hers, she’s quickly corrected.

"We don’t want to lose customers, and we don’t want the market to lose customers because we aren’t wearing them," she said. "The times we don’t have a mask on people get very angry with you."

Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that the state would provide 900,000 masks and other protective gear for farm workers, many of whom live in communal housing, in the coming weeks to help limit the spread of the virus as crops are harvested this summer.

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