The Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS) has urged farmers nationwide to minimise all contacts with others in line with guidance from the health authorities and to take every possible precaution to suppress and prevent Covid-19 at community, regional and national levels.

While marts are allowed to continue offering online sales only, customers are asked to check-in with their local mart in advance of anticipated sales as some marts have decided to remain closed until January 11, at the earliest, based on their consideration of local and regional circumstances.

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Speaking to AgriLand, Ray Doyle, the livestock and environmental services executive with ICOS, said: “Under the current measures, it is ‘drop and go’ for sellers of livestock, and potential buyers may then view animals in pens for a short period of time and must then leave the premises and bid online.

All necessary health and safety protocols must be observed including face coverings, social distancing and sanitising gels.

“Marts and their customers have demonstrated very strong compliance to date and this will continue where marts may also take decisions to operate temporary suspensions of trading, or restricted hours, in the interests of safety.

“We’re asking customers to check in with their mart locally and marts themselves will also be keeping their customers directly advised and updated.”

According to ICOS, marts are operating under the following guidance:

  • There are currently no ringside/live auctions taking place;
  • Marts may take decisions to operate temporary suspensions of trading, or restricted hours, in the interests of safety;
  • Face coverings are mandatory and must be worn. Hand washing is essential and sanitising gels must be used;
  • As is currently the case, all people attending the mart must have their time and mobile number recorded;
  • All sellers dropping animals must then immediately leave the mart premises;
  • All potential buyers must contact the mart manager to arrange and get approval to view livestock before the sale;
  • The actual viewing time allotted for viewing is up to the mart manager to decide;
  • When the viewing time is up, all potential buyers must leave the mart premises and bid remotely online;
  • Any mart not online can use a tendering system. Sales cannot start if buyers are on the premises;
  • Buyers must co-operate and adhere to all necessary measures instructed during viewing times;
  • Social distancing of two metres is obligatory at all times and there is to be no waiting or hanging around by customers on the premises;
  • All sellers must be available to receive phone calls to accept /decline final bids for livestock, by arrangement with their local mart.