ORGANISERS of Malton’s monthly food market have defended their decision to go ahead with the event during the coronavirus lockdown.

The market was held in the town’s market place on Saturday with stalls restricted to food and drink.

Tom Naylor-Leyland, director of Visit Malton, said: “The Monthly Food Market took place this weekend in line with government guidelines to provide local residents with the opportunity to buy their food and drink supplies from the market’s regular line-up of independent and artisan producers in a safe and socially distanced environment.

“There was a range of measures in place to keep the open-air market secure, including one-way systems and hand sanitisation stations. We also counted shoppers in and out to manage numbers and stalls were socially distanced from one another.

“As is to be expected, with national lockdown preventing visitors travelling from further afield, the market was the quietest of the series, however we were pleased to see such an encouraging turn-out from local residents keen to shop local during this challenging time.

“It is with sadness, however, that we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Christmas market. As one of our flagship events, it has attracted a large footfall in previous years and recognising current restrictions, we consider this cancellation an important step in the ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the Ryedale district.”

Howard Kinder, who trades at the market with his Malton Brewery brand, said: "The market is one of the safest shopping environments around. The organisers go to great lengths to make sure people feel safe and assured and the feedback I have received from customers has been really good throughout the Covid period.”

Gavin Reed, who runs TVC Electrical, said: “Our town is very special and unique and Saturday’s stunt was a crazy situation inviting traders from outside the area and inviting people from away. Now it’s time to move forward and wait for our reopening on December 2 and hope and pray the market doesn’t effect this.