Covid-19 ‘Level 5’ restrictions will remain in place until March 5, to be reviewed again after that date, the government announced this evening (Tuesday, January 26).

Under Level 5 restrictions, marts are required to operate on an online-only basis, as they have been since these restrictions came into effect in late December.

Under ‘full’ Level 5 rules, the guidance for marts is as follows: “Marts [to be] held online with arrangements to facilitate weighing of animals; matching of stock between buyers and sellers; drop-off of animals; and buyers’ inspection of stock in the pens by appointment.”

The bidding process takes place exclusively online under Level 5 restrictions, the guidance stipulates.

Under Level 5, the following services or activities are deemed essential and can continue as long as certain rules are observed: farming; farm labour; farm relief services; crop and animal production; fishing for commercial purposes; aquaculture and fish farming; horticulture; forestry; veterinary, welfare and related services; marts; and any services in support of those listed.

In its announcement this evening, the government said: “While we have seen a welcome decrease in the numbers of cases in recent days, the overall numbers and, significantly, the numbers in hospital and ICU with Covid-19 are at their highest since the start of the pandemic.

For this reason, we must continue efforts to get the virus under control by limiting congregation, mobility and social contacts as much as possible.

“Maintaining Level 5 restrictions will place continued demands on society and business. However, it is essential that we continue to hold firm and reduce the cases in order to protect the vulnerable, protect our health care services and reopen schools at the earliest opportunity,” the government statement added.