The move to online-only mart sales is a feature of the Level 5 restrictions that were announced by government this evening (Wednesday, December 30).

The announcement comes after a sharp spike in the number of daily Covid-19 cases.

The government said today that full Level 5 restrictions, as set out in the Plan for Living with Covid-19, will apply nationally from midnight tonight, and will remain in place throughout the month of January.

Under ‘full’ Level 5, 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 plan stipulates.

Under Level 5, the following services or activities are deemed essential and can continue as long as restrictions 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.

Restrictions for January

The government said tonight that these new restrictions will remain in effect until midnight on January 31.

A government statement said: “It is recognised that this decision will have an impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, but the clear message is that we must all now stay at home, with the exception of essential purposes, in order to stop the spread of the virus.”