With livestock marts set to re-open to allow buyers and sellers on-premises later this month as Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease, certain Safe Sales Standard Operating Procedures (SSSOPs) must be complied with to get the green light.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) sent letters to mart managers today (Wednesday, May 5) detailing that, as of Monday, May 17, some restrictions on mart operations will be lifted, which will “allow marts to permit buyers to be present in sales rings and so to further facilitate trade in livestock”.


However, marts wishing to allow buyers into sales rings must revise their SSSOPs. According to the department, certain protocols must be put in place for staff, mart visitors (buyers, sellers and hauliers) and the mart premises.

Beginning with staff, DAFM says that staff numbers should be at the minimum required, with an attendance record kept, including dates, times and attendee contact details.

Facemasks are compulsory, and staff should be given appropriate training on Covid-19 symptoms and prevention of spread, while it should also be made clear that HSE physical distance guidelines must always be adhered to – with everyone.

Other staff protocols include what to do if Covid-19 symptoms develop.

Mart ‘visitors’

Turning to SSSOPs for mart visitors, the department notes that marts must prevent any congregation of people in the mart carpark or at entries to mart buildings, while the entrance must also be controlled and visits regulated by appointment.

“Visitors arriving without appointments should be refused access to the mart site.

Details of all dates and times of attendees should be recorded by means of an attendance record along with contact details, while visitors should be advised of 2m physical distancing guidelines and should only move as directed by mart personnel or displayed signs.

It is stressed that all visitors must wear a face covering while on the mart premises.
“Buyers may attend the sales ring and view stock in pens. However, this must be done by prior appointment with the livestock mart,” the DAFM letter states.

Meanwhile, sellers may remain on the premises and use the seller’s box, provided social distancing is maintained, the department notes.

Mart premises

The department says that access points to the mart premises should be “limited to the minimum required to operate safely and mart employees should regulate and record any entrants at all entrances”.

In addition, hand hygiene facilities should be provided throughout, and appropriate Covid-19 signage should be put in place.

Mart management must ensure that arrangements for physical distancing are in place throughout the premises, especially in respect of toilet facilities, canteens (where open) and in office space.

Buyers must be separated by more than 2m in the sales ring at all times and a “maximum number” of people allowed in the trading room area must be agreed and approved by DAFM staff.