Richmond Night Market’s opening night was “very successful,” according to owner Raymond Cheung, but the market will be working to manage crowd sizes going forward.
The market reopened for the summer season on Friday, after a 16-month closure due to COVID-19.
“It was a very successful event, and everybody had a very good time,” Cheung said. “I think it’s just catching back their memory (of what) they were used to (before COVID-19), and I think everybody who came to our market had that experience last night.”
However, the size of the crowd at the night market drew some attention on social media, including concern about the spread of COVID-19 and a lack of social distancing.
“This is a new thing for us as well – we’ve been doing events for many years, but we’ve never done an event with a pandemic on our back. So it’s a learning curve,” said Cheung, adding that once inside, people stayed longer than expected given the market's been downsized this year.
“Our expectation was maybe an hour, an hour and a half, and then people would start leaving. And there was, but there was not enough... Today, basically what we’re going to do is have a limitation on the passes to sell, so we can control the amount of people that can go inside the event, and then we can monitor the situation accordingly.”
He explained the market would limit the number of tickets it sells during certain times, for example, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“So we will determine that number per hour.”
There are also fewer booths to help make more space for social distancing. This year, there’s about 70 food tents and 100 retail-oriented tents, while in 2019 the market had a total of about 300 tents.
Currently, B.C. is in step three of its restart plan, which allows outdoor organized seated gatherings to have up to 5,000 people or 50 per cent capacity – whichever is greater – while fairs, festivals, trade shows and stand-up receptions can return to normal operations with a communicable disease plan.
While the market will be working to manage crowd size, Cheung said he is “optimistic” to see last night’s turnout.
“It’s a big encouragement to us… People like us, people like events and want to come back,” he said. “So looking at that I’m very encouraged. I think that our economy will start moving forward.”
–With a file from Glen Korstrom, Business in Vancouver