The 77 Flea Market in Brownsville will reopen its doors next weekend as positive cases of COVID-19 in the area continue to decrease. The market has been closed for five months and owners said they will be opening at a 25 percent capacity and will require face coverings to enter the premises.
The market will have posters throughout the premises in both English and Spanish where it states the necessary measures to follow in order to avoid the spread of the virus, such as avoiding touching your face, washing your hands, disinfecting areas, covering your cough and staying home if you are sick.
“We are going to be working a way that it is safe. The distance on each table is of 10 feet and each seller will have to stay within their table so they don’t infringe that safety measure,” Juani Parra, a representative of the family that owns and operates the business, said. “Every seller will have to wear face masks and bring their own hand sanitizer.”
Parra said the family was in talks with both the city of Brownsville and the Brownsville Health Department for about four weeks to make sure they were following all the recommendations to safely open for the community. She said she is very grateful with Mayor Trey Mendez and Health Director Art Rodriguez for all their help.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity that the city is giving us to reopen and we really want to thank all of them because they took the time for us and gave us this opportunity to reopen,” she said. “We are all in this together and we all want to do what’s best for the community and we have been closed for five months and a lot of people have been economically suffering because of this.”
Parra said throughout the five months she received several calls from sellers asking them when the facilities will open again. She said a lot of families depend only on the money they make selling at the market and hopes the community supports the vendors while following safety protocols.
“We will receive them with our arms open and hopefully they support our vendors. We are doing everything we can to do it in a safe way so that everyone feels comfortable and we ask everyone to please follow the recommendations by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and our local authorities,” she said. “It is very, very important that we follow the safety protocols and we have to help each other because we are all together in this.”
Rodriguez said one of the great attributes to allow the flea market to reopen was that it is an open space and it allows for people to be spread out, especially at the 25 percent capacity.
“The family that owns and operates the flea market has been very cooperative with us and they were very willing to open at 25 percent,” he said. “This is an opportunity to learn and to reopen slowly.”
Rodriguez continued saying the pandemic is still out there but by opening the economy in a very safe and controlled manner it can be safe for the community.
“When we do it in a very high-level of coordination like with the Gomez family we can reopen safely,” he said. “We are working very close with them because we want this to be a safe reopening.”
Rodriguez added he also wants other businesses to open safely and wants the flea market to be an example of reopening safely. He added the family has agreed that if COVID-19 cases start to increase in the community they are willing to close if needed.
“I’m hoping that’s not what occurs here, I’m hoping that here the citizens will understand that there’s a lot at stake and will sanitize, wear masks and practice social distancing,” he said.
Parra said they received good feedback by the community when the family announced on Facebook they will reopen soon.
“Everybody wants to go get their elote, agua fresca and espiropapas,” she said laughing.