Since 2009 the Tomball Farmers Market has held its Saturday market rain or shine. Yet amid the region taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the market has been asked to close, Executive Director Michelle Bundy said.

The market is considered a temporary event by Harris County—and receives permits from the county to operate—and as such, the market is closed until further notice, Bundy said. Market officials made the announcement on the market's Facebook page March 12.

"It's my opinion that an open-air market is a great option for the general public if certain precautions are taken. I had made a plan just trying to be proactive," she said. "Harris County announced [yesterday] that if it's an event that's permitted by them, then that event will not be going forward."

Bundy said the closure of the Tomball market—and other local markets—could be devastating to local business owners.

"For a lot of these vendors, they have a lot invested into these businesses. They're entire business plan revolves around selling from a farmers market. So having a market shut down is devastating for the small business owner. If markets don't step up and take the initiative to offer an alternative solution, these businesses are going to crumble," she said.

Bundy said she estimates for about half of the market's vendors that being a market vendor is their only job. The market shutdown will likely hit craft vendors the hardest, she said, because people do not view those items as essentials.

"We've tried to create options, because we don't know whether this is a two-week closure and we don't know whether this is a one-month [or] two-month closure, so we're just trying to be proactive as opposed to just reactive," she said.

The decision to allow the weekly market to reopen lies with Harris County officials, she said.

In the interim, Bundy and other market officials have set up a Facebook group to connect the market's 65 small businesses with customers so customers can work directly with market vendors to preorder items and coordinate a pickup location. Join the public group here to preorder from market vendors.

"We're encouraging [vendors] to post in this one group for everybody to see," she said. "It honestly reminds me of seeing the community come together as they did in [Hurricane] Harvey."

Bundy said she is working with vendors who do not have a social media presence to set up a Facebook page so they can continue to sell products via the Facebook group.

"Some of our farmers, especially the one who do not have social media—this is going to be a large transition for them. But we need them to transition in order to sell their products, because they need to be able to make money and provide food for the community," Bundy said. "That was just the best decision at the moment; I'm sure we'll tweak it and continue."