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Christmas markets stall owners speak on COVID-19 spike concerns

By Luke Patrick

The Manchester Christmas markets provide weeks of magic for excited shoppers every year.

Whether it’s buying some new additions to the Christmas tree or buying one of the new

Christmas market mugs. After last year’s cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic the

markets are even more popular than ever. However, this has brought some stall owners to

worry about the concerns that the markets could act as a catalyst for Covid-19 cases.

The owner of the stall Rita’s Reign Street Food which is located at the Piccadilly Gardens.

Specialising in Afro-Caribbean, Boneless Street food, Olivia Linsdell said: “I do think that with

the lack of social distancing measures that have been put in place I do think that will

definitely cause a spike.” Stalls having the wooden forks and sauces at the front for people

to use was also creating a risk as lots of people would be frequently touching the same

surfaces, this was also raised as a concern. Ms Linsdell said: “The only sort of contact that

we come in between our customers is when we are handing the food over.” While less

prevalent the Covid-19 mitigating measures remain in place.

However, another stall owner disagrees with the idea that the festive events will lead to a

spike. Jim Bhutto, the manager for the Indian street food stall said that people are less

concerned about the risk of Covid-19 now, as people are proceeding normally. Mr Bhutto

said: “there wasn’t any Christmas markets last year, so people are more energised to come

out.” Despite not being as worried about coronavirus as other stall owners Mr Bhutto and

his staff are still taking precautions. He said: “we are all double jabbed and I am triple

jabbed now”. He described last year as “devastating” having to let go of all his staff during

the lockdown. As a business that only does events, while there is still a risk of infection it

seems this market is too important to miss. Despite a struggle to find the right labour. Mr

Bhutto explained “we are offering £12 an hour and we still can’t find people.”

The organisers have implemented their own Covid-19 safety measures such as a one-way

system around the Piccadilly Gardens site, along with hand sanitising stations at each

entrance. While the market events are exciting there may be a price to pay in terms of

Covid-19 infections.


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