HUNDREDS of traders across Bury’s iconic market are breathing a sigh of relief after the famous retail hub reopened its doors to shoppers following the latest easing of Covid restrictions.

Established in 1444, Bury Market is one of the most successful traditional markets in England and voted Britain’s favourite in 2019. Every year up to 1,500 coach-loads of visitors descend on the site to sample the wares at nearly 400 stalls.

Unsurprisingly, Bury Council is drawing up plans to ensure that the market thrives for many generations to come, and is at the heart of long-term proposals for the regeneration of the town centre.

But the last year has seen up to 9m visitors annually left bereft as a succession of lockdowns and restrictions meaning only food stalls offering takeaway have been allowed to open.

Now, with non-essential retail outlets permitted to trade again, the vast majority of stalls across the outdoor market, market hall and fish and meat hall are back in business.

Donna Ball, head of operations at Bury Council, said: “This is the moment that traders and shoppers alike have waited months for - the full reopening of Bury’s famous market.

“Online shopping is all well and good, but nothing beats the atmosphere and bargains of a real market – and we’ve got the best in the land, as voted for by the public.”

“Please remember, though, that the coronavirus is still with us – and it’s up to all of us to stop it spreading. So we’ve put in a number of measures across the market to keep us all safe – hand sanitisers, two metre distancing signs, and we urge customers to use contactless payment at stalls which have a card reader. We’ll also have marshals controlling entry to the fish and meat hall if it gets too crowded. We’re back with a bang. Thank you to everyone for the continued support through another tough lockdown period. Onwards and upwards from now, we can’t wait to see you all soon!”

Unfortunately indoor hospitality venues at the market won’t be able to seat customers, but can continue to offer takeaway service. The current date from which indoor hospitality venues will be able to seat customers is Monday, May 17.