Many marts requesting farmers to wear face coverings

Many marts around the country are requesting that farmers and other persons attending sales wear face coverings.

Eimear McGuinness, chairperson of Mart Managers of Ireland (MMI), said that – while marts in most parts of the country had not received any notification about making face coverings compulsory – many marts in the MMI group had taken the decision to request attendees to wear them.

However, McGuinness told AgriLand that she is “kind of expecting” notification to come eventually on making face coverings mandatory in marts.

McGuinness stressed that even with face coverings, maintaining the advised social distance was still a more important factor in preventing any possible spread of Covid-19 in marts.

At the end of last month, marts were advised that the required social distancing measures could be reduced from 2m to 1m – subject to a limit of 50 people in the ring areas, a figure McGuinness said is “ample” for the present time.

Kildare, Laois and Offaly

Following a government decision last week, enhanced public health restrictions were introduced in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly due to a recent spike in Covid-19 cases in the region.

McGuinness explained that – unlike elsewhere at present – marts in these counties had received notification that face coverings should be compulsory, and that the social distancing requirements should be brought back up to 2m.

The MMI chairperson stressed: “We all have to be very careful… It took a long time to get to a place where we are kind of happy… We’ve got into a process and almost a new way of life now.”

ICOS and ALM

Meanwhile, ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) Co-operative Marts, and Associated Livestock Marts (ALM), have both asked costumers to wear face coverings on an ongoing basis from today, Tuesday, August 11.

These marts feel that – although wearing face covering in marts is not mandatory – it is “wise to encourage all patrons to wear coverings when around the auction ring and in mart offices”.

The recommended coverings include disposable or cloth masks which thoroughly cover the mouth and nose, or a plastic see-through face visor.

In a joint statement, ICOS’ Ray Doyle and ALM’s Eric Driver said: “The reintroduction of Covid-19 restriction measures in the midlands [counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly] indicates the continuing potential for infection to take place in communal settings.

“Face coverings help prevent people who don’t know they have the virus from spreading it to others… We must all do whatever we can to minimise the spread of Covid-19, so we’re asking people to stay safe, protect each other and ‘mask up in the marts’,” Doyle and Driver said.