First Monday flea market opens during coronavirus pandemic

RIPLEY, Miss. (WTVA) — The First Monday flea market opened this weekend and attracted customers even though the governor and state health officer discouraged people from attending over coronavirus concerns.

Among those there to shop was Barbara Sanderson of Smithville. She and her husband said they were not worried about getting the virus.

People looking over items at the First Monday flea market on April 2, 2020. (Evan Hensley)

“I feel safe because I have to go to Walmart to get groceries, and I’m wearing my mask. But most of the people in there don’t have on a mask,” said Sanderson.

The flea market owner said on Thursday steps would be taken to make sure coronavirus health guidelines were followed.

“Everyone for the most part [is] keeping their distance pretty much,” said vendor Gregory Walls of Memphis. “We are trying to keep our distance with hand sanitizer, masks and face shields, just trying to listen to the CDC guidelines.” 

Governor Tate Reeves and State Health Officers Doctor Thomas Dobbs were asked about the flea market Friday, and they asked that it not open over concerns it could spread the virus. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported on Saturday 56 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths in Tippah County.

All this happened during the first week of the state allowing more retailers to reopen with restrictions during the pandemic.