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Coronavirus Kent: Maidstone Market shuts just hours after pledges made to keep it open

A market, which had hoped to stay open, to help with the supply of fresh produce, has closed as the nation went into coronavirus lockdown.

Maidstone council announced yesterday afternoon that the Tuesday and Saturday markets in Lockmeadow, in Maidstone, would continue as usual.

Lockmeadow Centre where today's market should be in full swing
Lockmeadow Centre where today's market should be in full swing

The council was encouraging traders to sell essential items in high demand such as fresh fruit and vegetables, cleaning products and toilet rolls.

It said yesterday staying open will support local producers, farmers and wholesalers who would normally supply restaurants and cafés.

The plan was to introduce larger gaps of two metres between each pitch and for all stalls to be outside, but the car park stood empty today.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's address to the nation last night revealed people can only leave their homes to shop for essentials and for one form of exercise a day - alone or with the household.

Only keyworkers would be allowed to continue to travel to work and stores selling items not considered vital, such as clothes and electronics were ordered to shut.

Some had questioned the decision to keep the market trading, after huge crowds flocked to the beach and harbour in Whitstable over the weekend. The council had consulted guidelines from the National Association of British Market Authorities.

A statement on the Maidstone Market Facebook page read: "Due to the Government announcement on lockdown, I'm afraid Maidstone Market will be closed till further notice.

"As things progress, we will notify you of changes."

The market on Barker Road normally runs Tuesday and Saturday mornings between 7.30am and 1.30pm.

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