COVID-19 - updated government guidelines

The Government has set out a roadmap over the coming five months that will gradually lift the restrictions on the hospitality sector. The steps in the lifting of restrictions are defined within the Government’s COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021.

Only when the government is sure that it is safe to move from one step to the next will the final decision be made. The decision will be based on four tests:

  • the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalizations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern

It is essential that businesses continue to operate in a responsible and COVID-19 secure way.

Traders  should have reviewed and implemented the Government’s guidance on minimising the risks and operating safely.

Preparing to reopen:

Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April 2021, will see the opening of non-essential retail. Below are steps you need to follow to open your trade:

Risk assessments:

All traders planning to resume trade will be required to undertake a risk assessment to ensure they are operating as a COVID-19 secure business. This is to protect both staff and customers from infection, or the potential spread of infection from asymptomatic people. 

Find the suggested guidance and risk assessment templates 


All staff working on a stall must be registered with the Market Team.

It is important to protect your staff from coronavirus. The best protection for your staff is regular handwashing and to maintain a 2m distance from other staff and customers where possible, and 1m with mitigation where it isn’t. Staff should travel separately to work and not car share, should follow all safety measures on public transport and have a change of clothes for the workplace. It is recommended that regular shifts are organised, so people are working with the smallest number of different people as possible.

You are required by law to report if a member of staff tests positive for coronavirus. You may need to ask all your staff to self-isolate if one becomes infected so reiterate the advice to stay at home if they feel unwell, have a temperature or cough.


It is your responsibility to manage the queues that form outside your stall and to ensure that customers are maintaining social distancing. This is 2m, or 1m with mitigation where 2m is not viable. You are required to manage your own queues and ensure compliance with the social distancing rules.

Face Masks:

Traders and their registered assistants are required to wear face mask at all times when carrying street trading activities. You must tell customers of the requirement to wear face coverings where social distancing is not possible and have signs displayed so they can easily see and read them. The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to specific circumstances set out in the Regulations and guidance.

Social Distancing on our trading sites:

All markets have been risk assessed and we are still maintaining 4m or 2m distance between stall set up to ensure proper and safe crowd management. There is no guarantee of pitches and pitches will be allocated by the market team subject to availability and in line with social distancing rules.

Street trading licences process:

All street trading  licences and their associated street trading charges remain suspended and the process for temporary street trading licence remains unchanged.

If you wish to trade or continue trading you must submit a request for a temporary licence to the street trading team in writing in advance (at least 24 hours during working hours and office days) to the providing details of:

  • the market or street trading location you wish to trade at
  • goods that you would like to offer for sale
  • days on which you would like to trade
  • Covid 19 risk assessment

Note: Please ensure your  Employers/Public Insurance Liability certificate, Food hygiene Level 2 certificate, Gas certificate, Pat test are valid to prevent delays.

For those of our traders who are unable to trade, information about support is updated on our dedicated webpage.

Fees re-instatement:

Markets Team is planning to re-instate the street trading charges in due course and further communication will be sent out to advise you on the fees structure and process involved.

If you break the rules:

The Police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

Note: This advice is subject to change if Government advice is amended. You will be notified of any future change.

Why you should become a street trader

With its low start-up and running costs, street trading is a great way to start your own business.

Many thriving businesses started as market stalls; from familiar high street names such as Marks & Spencer, Poundland, and Tesco to fashion brands such as Dunelm and Super Dry as well as snack companies like Innocent drinks. Markets are exciting and vibrant places, even if you just want to work for yourself and are not yet ready to start a retail empire.

Different private markets have different arrangements for renting their pitches and stalls to traders including written contracts and informal, daily, arrangements.

The Council licences traders under the London Local Authorities Act 1990 (as amended) and our traders enjoy certain legal protections. Unlike commercial operators, we cannot use fees and charges from our traders to generate a profit and must set the fees based on the cost of providing the service. This is why trading on Council run markets is often much cheaper than trading on private markets.

Our market’s team currently licenses trading on:

  • our eight street markets
  • our fifty miscellaneous sites and kiosks (these are usually on busy streets or outside tube stations and are often florists or newsagents)
  • forecourts (this is trading on private land where the customer is on the street whilst being served, often this is where a shop owns some pavement and is renting it to another businesses or where the shop owner is selling something different to the business of their shop)

We also grant licences for special events that involve street trading.

Consent to put tables and chairs on the street is dealt with by our Customer Service Team.

Getting training and obtaining loans

If you are resident in London you might qualify for Start Up Step Up London, a programme designed to help Londoners access entrepreneurship and improve their enterprise skills.

You can find out more information about becoming a street trader, and accessing low-cost funding to help you start your business, at the following places:

Equipment suppliers

There are many places to buy market equipment but the following links are a good place to start:

Market equipment and stalls

Electrical adapters

Find storage space

Some of our markets are close to housing estates that have vacant garages.

For information about who can rent garages and costs, please see our Apply for a garage page. Applications are handled by our Estate Management Team.

If you are applying for a garage, please use the lookup function to find your address, if you manually enter your address; the form will fail and your application will be lost:

Apply for a garage on a housing estate

Before you start your application

To hold a licence you must be 17 years of age or older.

Insurance cover

Having the correct insurance ensures that, in the event of an accident, you, your workers, customers, and other members of the public are covered.

You must have public liability insurance covering a minimum of £5 million throughout the licensed period before you start trading.

If you are employing someone to work for you, you must also have Employers Liability Insurance.

This insurance should cost under £150 per annum and is included in the membership fee of the National Market Traders Federation or can be obtained through an insurance broker.

Additional requirements to sell food

To sell food you need to register with us as a food business. It is free to register, and your registration cannot be refused. You should register at least 28 days before trading. If you are preparing, cooking, or storing food at another location this must also be registered with the local authority where it is located.

Apply to trade on a street market

Our street markets have a range of different hours and trading days to suit people who already have work or home commitments that prevent them from working 9 to 5.

We issue casual and temporary licences. Both licences detail the commodity that may be sold. Casual licences may have conditions relating to which markets they can be used on and which days. Temporary licences detail the days and the market that the trader is licensed to trade on.

Many traders have multiple licences and work on different markets on different days of the week.

Please visit our Camden's markets pages for more information about each market to help you choose the best location for your business. 

If you would like us to inform you as soon as the applications are available, please fill-in our expression of interest form.

Special offers

If you are interested in trading at Queen’s Crescent Market and are currently licensed with another London local authority you can trade at Queen’s Crescent for two weeks without the need to fully comply with our current licensing process. All you need to do is to provide us a copy of your trading license and a public liability insurance certificate.

Charity and community stalls

Camden welcomes charities and volunteers to join any market for free. There are no fees if you are not offering something for sale. Fees are negotiable/not applicable for groups selling to fund activity or promote activity. Apply for a charity or community stall.

You will be required to provide a copy of your Public Liability insurance. This insurance should cost under £150 per annum and is included in the membership fee of the National Market Traders Federation or can be obtained through an insurance broker.

License a forecourt

This is trading on private land where the customer is on the street whilst being served, often this is where a shop owns some pavement and is renting it to another businesses or where the shop owner is running a business distinct from their shop on their own forecourt.

Buy casual trading tickets

If you are a licensed casual trader you can buy tickets by calling our duty line 020 7974 2475.

  • Monday to Wednesday from 9:30am 4:00pm
  • Thursday 9:30am to 1pm

Or you can email us at