Department to provide restriction outline to marts ‘in coming days’

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is to write to marts around the country in the coming days to give a brief outline of how Covid-19 restrictions will proceed and what marts can expect, according to mart representative body Mart Managers of Ireland (MMI).

In a statement yesterday evening (Friday, November 13), MMI noted that its representatives had a meeting with department officials to discuss ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

Describing the meeting as “constructive”, MMI said that issues of “paramount importance” were discussed.

These issues include: what plans are in place for when Level 5 restrictions are lifted; and – with the possibility of returning to Level 5 restrictions in 2021 a possibility – what changes can be made regarding current top-level restrictions.

MMI highlighted that it passed on feedback from its member marts to the department on difficulties which it says arose from online-only sales.

The mart managers’ statement said: “We feel that, as an organisation, these discussions should be had now and as the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar rightly pointed out in a Dáil questions put forward by TD Michael Fitzmaurice this week, we have to look for practical solutions.”

MMI again requested financial assistance for marts to help cope with the expense of installing online equipment over the past year, stating:

“Every other sector have been given adequate grants and supports to install online sales systems and the marts should be no different with farming being an essential service.

Installation costs and continuing running costs for these online systems are additional outgoings in a year where income in marts has been greatly affected.

Continuing, MMI said that department officials did not know what level mart setups would refer back to in December.

However, it noted:

“With this in mind, and in order to give mart managers a chance to plan, the department confirmed to us that they intend writing to all marts in the coming days to give a brief outline of how the restrictions for marts will continue and what to expect.

“Naturally these restrictions will be subject to change at any time and may vary from county to county but with marts having gone through most levels of ‘Living with Covid-19’, we are mostly well adapted to them.

One positive was that clarification was received on Level 4 with regard to viewing times and it will be permitted going forward along with ringside buyers at 2m social distancing.

“Again this will be subject to change should NPHET request it. Marts must play their part in ensuring all regulations are adhered to,” the mart managers’ association concluded.