Tamworth's Peel Street markets will remain on hiatus potentially for months, with organisers blaming inflexible COVID-19 restrictions designed for massive metropolitan flea markets.
The monthly markets, which have been closed since the March coronavirus lockdown, are not yet rescheduled to reopen.
The Calala Rotary Club, which organises them, is hoping for an August return.
But that's dependent on a rollback of inflexible COVID-19 social distancing restrictions imposed by NSW Health, they said.
Because the Peel Street markets sell more than just food, they are required to collect contact details from all punters at staffed entrances.
Organiser Barry Pratten said that isn't going to be possible on Tamworth's main street.
He said the rules are designed for massive indoor Sydney markets like Paddy's Market in Haymarket.
"They don't take any consideration for the country areas," he said.
"At this stage we are hoping the rules will lessen so that we can restart the markets.
"We had looked at starting in July but at this stage that is very unsure, but we are hoping that whatever happens we are hoping we can get going by August."
Rules have only recently rolled back to permit public markets to reopen. But while both indoor and outdoor food markets are not restricted at all, general markets have to adopt a COVID-19 safety plan, with stallholders obligated to do extra paperwork and must impose other social distancing rules, among other restrictions.
Ironically, the deadly pandemic is thought to have started at a public food market in China.
The Peel Street markets, first held in 1996, raise money through the Rotary Club for various local charities and causes. Every month they would ordinarily raise about $1000.
Mr Pratten said the Peel Street markets had already suffered the financial blow of the region's drought and water crisis.
But he said normal people have missed the 24-year-old tradition and hopes people will be more willing to spend money now after months of good rain.
But they're in the hands of the gods as to when that might be allowed.
"We've been on to the local council here but their hands are tied by the NSW government and health organisations. We're just waiting easing of the restrictions."