Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File 
A line forms outside Centennial Hall ahead of Juneau Public Market, Nov. 29, 2019. After a year off because of the pandemic, the market is returning this year with COVID-19 mitigation measures in place.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File A line forms outside Centennial Hall ahead of Juneau Public Market, Nov. 29, 2019. After a year off because of the pandemic, the market is returning this year with COVID-19 mitigation measures in place.

Public Market returns with mitigation measures in place

Shoppers and vendors will need to be vaccinated.

A longtime Juneau institution is returning this year after a pandemic-induced year off.

Public Market, a holiday market in its 39th year, is scheduled for Nov. 26-28, organizers announced. The market’s return comes with a mitigation plan approved by the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency Operations Center.

“We are allowed to admit anyone who shows proof of full vaccination and who is wearing a mask,” said organizer Peter Metcalfe in a news release. “But without proof of vaccination, a negative test result won’t get you in under the plan. The good news is, other than the usual fire safety restrictions, we will have no attendance limits or social distancing requirements.”

Similar mitigation strategies have previously been announced for local musical, theatrical and drag performances. Both Peter Metcalfe, and his wife, Sandy Metcalfe, expressed gratitude to city officials for helping to come up with a plan that allows the event to go on.

Cellphone images of vaccination cards will be accepted, according to organizers, and people will be allowed to remove their masks to eat in the food court area, but social distancing will be required there.

Since informing vendors of the mitigation measures, Peter Metcalfe said he has had a few accuse him of discriminating against people who object to vaccinations for medical or religious reasons.

“When I explain that our only practical alternative is to cancel the Public Market, that seems to lower the temperature,” Peter Metcalfe said.

He told the Empire he is saddened by the distinct possibility children younger than 12 will be unable to be fully vaccinated by the time the event takes place. However, he is gladdened that nearly 85% of Juneau’s eligible population has already had at least one dose of vaccine and are therefore on track to be fully vaccinated by the time the event returns.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations for children could begin in November with children fully vaccinated by Christmas. Study details released Friday show child-sized doses of the vaccine appear safe and almost 91% effective at preventing infections with symptoms in children 5-11.

Public Market will feature 140 vendors from throughout the state and the West Coast, according to organizers, and the vendors will be set up in both Centennial Hall and the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. In 2018 and 2019,

Vendors are expected to be open for business noon- 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 26, and 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. on both Saturday, Nov. 27, and Sunday, Nov. 28, according to the Public Market website.

Weekend admission to Centennial Hall is $7.50 per person, according to the site, and there is no admission for the JACC. However, Peter Metcalfe said Public Market personnel will be checking vaccination status at the door.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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