ROWLEY – The 48th season at Todd Farm Flea Market ended abruptly this week when Health Director Frank Marchegiani announced the town was following the state's latest COVID-19 social distancing requirements.
The indefinite suspension does not apply to shops inside a house and barn, Todd's River View Farm, all located on the same property off Route 1A. Both markets are owned by Frank Todd and his family.
"I hated to do it," Marchegiani said.
On Friday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced he was reducing the limit for outdoor gatherings to 50 people as part of other measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The alterations were made after some communities around the state experienced an uptick in cases.
Ever since Todd Farm reopened to the public earlier this summer, the Route 1A institution has drawn thousands of people and supplied much-needed income to the more than 40 vendors who filled the fields and a nearby landowner who charged $5 per car for parking.
"Things could change, we don't know," Marchegiani said.
As the summer progressed, Marchegiani and other officials regularly spoke to farm officials about maintaining social distancing and displaying signs that encouraged people to wear masks and stay at least six feet apart.
But with the new state guidelines in place, it did not take long for Marchegiani and other town officials to determine that keeping the flea market in compliance would not be feasible.
"They both agreed it's impossible," Marchegiani said, referring to Todd Farm officials.
The indoor shops were allowed to stay open because they are considered retail businesses with different protocols to follow, Marchegiani added.
No one answered the phone when a reporter called Todd Farm officials for a comment.