PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - A popular farmer’s market in Laurel was shut down Thursday by the Prince George’s County Health Department because of employees and customers not complying with the county’s indoor mask mandate.
One employee who wanted to remain anonymous told FOX 5 most of the employees at the Dutch Country Farmers Market refused to wear masks. They say this will leave a lot of people without work, many of whom need the job.
"Now we’re trying to figure out what to do with our lives because somebody else doesn’t want to follow the rules," the employee said.
The employee says the health department has been to the farmer’s market before and they’ve even closed a few vendors for the same reason.
"They do not believe in COVID at all, so that’s why they say there’s no point of wearing masks. My boss is like, ‘No, this is not true, this is lies, God’s going to take care of us.’"
A few customers came and went Thursday afternoon, disappointed to see the closed signs. Some of them say they also notice workers without a mask on.
The Prince George’s County Health Department sent this statement to FOX 5 regarding the decision to close the farmers market:
"After responding to numerous community complaints over the course of the pandemic and conducting numerous facility inspections, the Prince George’s County Health Department closed down the Dutch Country Farmers’ Market (9701 Fort Meade Rd., Laurel, MD 20707) on Thursday, Dec. 2nd due to a continued inability to comply with the County’s indoor mask mandate.
The market’s employees have repeatedly been observed not wearing masks in the market, which is indoors, and not enforcing the mask mandate for customers.
The market must remain closed until it submits a plan to the Health Department describing the corrective actions it has made to ensure mask mandate compliance for employees and customers. The department will also perform a follow-up inspection of the facility before it may reopen."
FOX 5 also reached out to the Dutch Country Farmer’s Market and was told they are working with the county and taking steps to get re-inspected, in addition to complying with the mask mandate, so they can try to reopen.