The iconic Richmond Night Market is open for the 2021 summer season with new health and safety measures after closing last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Owner and operator Raymond Cheung says it was tough having to close for what would have been the market’s 20th anniversary but is very excited about welcoming back visitors this year.
“We’ve been waiting for 16 months now. A couple months ago, we were still in lockdown and we were thinking about what we’re going to do this summer,” he said.
“Now, in a short two weeks, we put everything together.”
Cheung says he’s extremely proud of his team for moving so quickly to get the venue ready for visitors, a process that normally takes around four months. However, the pandemic means setting up the venue in a way that meets current health guidelines, which means a reduced capacity.
“At the food court, we still have about 70 stalls,” he said, adding that the number is about a third less than previous years. “Everything we’re doing right now is to make the visitors feel more comfortable.”
In addition to the food stalls, Cheung says the market will also feature about 100 retail stalls. His team has also expanded the food court eating area to make it easier to distance and added two large handwashing stations and several sanitizer stations.
Visitors are also required to wear masks, unless they’re in the eating area. Free masks will also be handed out at the entrance to the market.
“With the handwashing stations, sanitizer stations and the rule on masks, I feel like we’re much safer and we can open more,” said Anthony Bui, one of the vendors.
Bui, who works for Wun2Free Entertainment, helps run some of the market’s carnival games as well as a bubble tea stand. He says he’s looking forward to the excitement the Night Market brings.
“We’ve been here for about eight years now, and we always enjoy the atmosphere,” he said. “Everyone is running around trying all the food, going to the vendors for a quick shop, as well as playing games to try and win a prize.”
Cheung says he’s calling the Richmond Night Market’s return the “20th year revisited” and is looking forward to seeing a return to a sense of normalcy.
“Seeing the people coming in and smiling, that’s the rewarding part. Providing that joy, watching families and young people just being normal. Those are things I really missed.”
The Richmond Night Market is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. until midnight, and Sundays and holidays from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. It will be running until Sept. 6.