Some question face mask enforcement at State Farmers Market in Raleigh

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)– There are questions about mask enforcement at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh, including what’s required and why some vendors aren’t wearing face coverings. 

The State Farmers Market in Raleigh is known for having great deals on produce, but some people think the lack of mask wearing by some vendors is a bad deal. 

A viewer contacted Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia concerned about what he and his family were seeing.

“Most vendors at the Raleigh farmers market do not wear masks or shields,” the viewer said.

“A few customers refuse to buy from unmasked vendors. We have now adopted this,” the viewer continued.

CBS 17 decided to go to the farmers market to see how people and vendors were dealing with the mask mandate. 

State Farmers Market

Shopper Archie Cowan and his wife, Jane, were among the people buying produce at the market Friday. He said he’s worried about unmasked vendors.

“We’re both 70 plus, so we’re concerned about it,” he said. 

“If they don’t care about their customers–we don’t care about giving them the business,” Jane added.

Ann Rogers was another customer who said she would not buy from unmasked vendor.

“I would stay away from anyone who doesn’t have a mask,” Rogers said. 

The state agriculture department is in charge of the Raleigh farmers market and CBS 17 wanted to know how they enforce the mask mandate with vendors. 

State Farmers Market

“The market requires vendors to wear face coverings; however, the Executive Order has a list of exceptions for the face covering requirement,” Manger Sim McIver said in an email statement.

McIver said under terms of the executive order “we cannot ask for documentation or any other proof of an exception.” 

Vendor Tonda Claborn says that’s why her face is uncovered. 

“I have health problems this in this heat prevent me from breathing,” she said. “I’m out here 9-10 hours a day in this heat and humidity and I keep my 6 foot distance from customers.” 

But, other vendors, like Hunter McLamb, just refuse to wear a mask. 

“It’s not going to protect me, that much I think,” he said.  

When asked if he was worried he might lose customers by not wearing a mask, he said, “No sir. If they don’t want to shop–they can move on.” 

CBS 17 found many vendors were wearing face coverings. Some said they find customers appreciate it.

“They tell us that every day,” said vendor Helen Wise. “They want to shop with someone wearing a mask.” 

In an effort to maintain social distancing, McIver said “the market has spaced out vendor areas so they are 12 feet or more apart.” 

He also said to accommodate certain vendors and encourage face coverings, the market has also provided face shields.

There are also signs at the market reminding people although COVID-19 is not a food borne illness, people need to adhere to the recommended social distancing guidelines. 

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