Published: 11:19, 10 May 2021
| Updated: 11:47, 10 May 2021
A boot fair has returned after more than a year - and its controversial £1 entrance fee is a thing of the past.
The Ashford Market Boot Fair on The Boulevard in Willesborough has been welcoming customers back since the last lockdown easing in mid-April.
The team behind the fair have been conducting a soft launch to assess Covid safety and to get back into the swing of things.
Most of the site is outdoors, however customers entering the large shed are being asked to wear masks.
Meanwhile stalls have been more spread out so that sellers aren't "cheek by jowl", organiser Peter Kingwill said.
He noted the number of visitors had been slowly rising, and so far the measures had proven effective in not having a Covid outbreak.
He said: "We stopped the car boot sale in March and never reopened when a lot of others did - we just felt it was a gathering of people and whilst we felt uncomfortable about it, we wouldn't do it.
"We started with just the essentials - butchers, bakers and other food stalls - and it's steadily grown.
"As we steadily grow, we're continuing to ask people both buying and selling to be aware and use common sense.
"At the same time, we're doing what we can in cleansing and disinfecting all indoor areas, door handles, leaving doors open and cleaning toilets on an hourly basis."
Another way of ensuring people remain safe is through the relaxation of entrance fees.
This, Mr Kingwill says, is to entice people back in while making sure his staff handle as little cash as possible to defend against Covid infection.
The organiser is also quite grateful for the run of colder weather, as it means the "gentle return" has not been overly crowded.
He is very aware that many people remain unconvinced in returning to events with large groups of people, and fully understands that uncertainty.
However Mr Kingwill wished to say to our readers: "When people feel it's a suitable time to return to the market, we will look forward to welcoming you back to the market on a Sunday."