City shops, Market, institutions remain open despite mass gathering bans

UPDATED: Adelaide’s key retail, food and cultural destinations, including the Central Market, Art Gallery and Rundle Mall, remain open but on alert as the Federal Government implements a new ban on indoor gatherings.

Mar 18, 2020, updated Mar 18, 2020
It's business as usual for the Adelaide Central Market amid coronavirus fears. Photo: InDaily

It's business as usual for the Adelaide Central Market amid coronavirus fears. Photo: InDaily

The ban, which indefinitely prohibits all non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people to prevent the spread of coronavirus, does not apply to supermarkets, food markets, grocery shops, retail outlets and shopping centres.

It comes after the Federal Government on Monday banned all non-essential outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.

The Central Market will continue trading as usual as it is considered an exempt “essential service” under the regulations, but it has postponed events and put extra health and safety precautions in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

In a statement this morning, general manager Jodie Kannane said the market would continue to work with the Adelaide City Council and Department of Health to determine the “risk held for our market community and the potential impact upon market operations in the coming months”.

Seating in common areas has been removed to ensure social distancing and traders have been told not to accept reusable coffee cups or containers.

Cleaning across the market has also ramped up and hand sanitiser stations are installed in key locations.

Kannane said market traders were selling “with no limits in place” fresh produce and pantry essentials such as take-home meals, milk, mince and pasta – which are in limited supply at supermarkets due to widespread hoarding and panic buying.

She said voluntary Sunday trading would commence as scheduled this week, with a range of traders open from 8am to 3pm.

“I would like to strongly encourage customers to continue to visit the Market for fresh produce and pantry essentials and to support our traders and the extensive network of small businesses who supply our Market, in what has been a very challenging start to the year for small businesses,” she said.

Across town, Rundle Mall also remains exempt from the mass gathering ban, but its management are “closely assessing the situation” to determine whether that will change.

Rundle Mall Management Authority general manager Johanna Williams told InDaily in a statement this afternoon that the shopping precinct was “cleaner than ever”.

“As a provider of essential services, Rundle Mall is continuing to trade as usual,” she said.

“We have always operated an intensive cleaning program and have initiated extra measures to increase frequency and improve efficiency.

“We have and will continue to work with retailers, business owners, centre and arcade operators in the Rundle Mall Precinct to ensure they’re taking all the recommended precautions to ensure the safety of shoppers, visitors and staff.

“We will continue to follow the advice of the City of Adelaide and SA Health, and the federal and state governments.”

The Myer Centre and City Cross Arcade offices have also been contacted for comment.

North Terrace’s cultural institutions, including the Art Gallery of SA, the SA Museum and the State Library, are not exempt from the indoor mass gathering ban.

All three institutions are open to the public today with precautions in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.

The Art Gallery of SA is considering how the mass gathering ban could impact its ability to keep its doors open to the public.

A spokesperson said AGSA was waiting on advice from the State Government before making a decision.

“At the moment we remain open,” the spokesperson said.

The gallery has suspended its public programs and members events, including guided tours, school visits, performances and lunchtime talks “until further notice”.

State Library director Geoff Strempel told InDaily this morning that the library had stopped offering a face-to-face service between staff and customers and visitors were now no longer able to use computers.

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“We’re keeping much of the library open – our exhibition spaces, our café and downstairs hub – so people can come into the building and use it,” he said.

“We’ve got security people patrolling our buildings and we’ve already had a conversation with the Department for Premier and Cabinet about us keeping an eye on ensuring that the numbers (of people) don’t gather in any one place greater than 20 to 100.

“If we see that there are parts of the library where larger groups are gathering we’ll probably fence them off as well.”

Following Monday’s news that mass outdoor gatherings of over 500 people would be banned, the SA Museum said it would remain open to the public “as usual”, but it had cancelled public events.

A museum spokesperson told InDaily this afternoon that it had suspended all school bookings, public programs, tours and member events until the end of April.

The Adelaide City Council has suspended all of its visitor information services, including the Adelaide Visitor Information Centre, Central Market information desk, city guides and Adelaide Town Hall tours yesterday “until further notice”.

It announced this afternoon that it had also temporarily closed a number of its public facilities, including the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, city libraries, community centres and Town Hall.

However, it is still unknown if council meetings will continue as normal.

“We are absolutely determined to do everything we can to assist our residents, businesses, visitors and staff during this uncertain and challenging time,” Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said.

“Cautionary measures such as these facility closures are only in place to protect the community and our employees, and to support coronavirus containment efforts.

“We don’t take this decision lightly, but we’re confident it’s the right decision as part of our duty of care to the community during this unique and challenging time.”

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