First Monday

Shoppers navigate the grounds of the First Monday Trades Day in Canton. The market will reopen May 28-31 after COVID-19 concerns in March forced the first cancellation in its 170-year-old history.

First Monday Trade Days is back on.

The Canton City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to reopen the huge flea market that attracts several thousand people each month.

The next First Monday Trade Days is scheduled for May 28-31.

The market has been closed for two months — since a March 12 announcement — because of concerns over COVID-19.

During a presentation, council members were told that similar markets in the state already had reopened.

First Monday Trade Days, which bills itself as one of the largest attractions of its kind in the world, will have to follow any guidelines set forth by Gov. Greg Abbott, the council members were told in the meeting held virtually because of social distancing concerns related to the new coronavirus.

Current guidelines for businesses restrict most buildings to 25% capacity. The restrictions would apply to Canton Civic Center, which houses vendors during Trade Days, the council was told.

Most vendors at the market are under pavilions or in open areas.

The council also was told that city police officers would not have to patrol the grounds to ensure visitors follow social distancing guidelines.

The council asked city employees to seek additional guidance from state and national authorities on safely reopening the market.

In its guidelines for holding mass gatherings and community events, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that organizers develop an emergency operation plan that takes into account COVID-19 considerations, promotes steps to slow the spread of the virus and makes COVID-19 prevention supplies available to staff members and participants.

In announcing the cancellation of the first First Monday Trade Days in the market’s 170-year history, the City Council released a statement that said: “The safety of our citizens, vendors, visitors and employees remains our highest priority. Closing First Monday due to COVID-19 was a hard decision because it supports more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and local merchants who rely on this market for their livelihood.

“After we are cleared to reopen, we want to encourage anyone and everyone to come back out to First Monday to support the artisans and vendors that provide the unique products who have been First Monday’s specialty since the 1850s.”