Government planning to reopen marts in early June

Marts are expected to reopen under phase two of the Government’s roadmap for the lifting of the Covid-19 restrictions.

The development was announced this evening, Friday, May 1, as part of the Government’s five-phase plan to gradually reopen the economy and society between the dates of May 18 and August 10.

However, these dates remain provisional as they will depend on progress made in tackling the spread of Covid-19.

With the phase dates set three weeks apart, it is possible that livestock marts may resume services in early June under phase two of the plan.

However, the Government roadmap clearly cautions that such action will only be considered at marts “where social distancing can be observed”.

Mart talks

In recent weeks mart representative groups have met and held intensive talks with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on possible protocols that would allow limited attendance at marts around the country.

The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) and Associated Livestock Marts (ALM) met with the department earlier this week; while Mart Managers of Ireland have also been in regular contact with department officials.

It had been hoped that proposed procedures would allow a measured return to a limited marts auction process; while also ensuring compliance with all necessary measures against the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Easing of restrictions

Meanwhile, in his address to the country this evening, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined that the Government has extended the limit on non-essential travel distances from 2km to 5km.

The Taoiseach also announced that persons over the age 70 could leave their homes, but only for the purposes of walking or going for a drive, whilst avoiding contact with other people.

These changes to the restrictions are expected to come into effect from next Tuesday, May 5.

The restrictions are expected to run until May 18, at which point the Government will implement its phased plan for lifting restrictions over time, though it is understood that this plan can be altered at any time, depending on the rate of spread of Covid-19 going forward.