Pics: Raphoe Mart reopens with new measures in place

Earlier today, Raphoe Mart reopened its doors to facilitate the weekly cattle sale which, under normal circumstances, takes place every Thursday.

As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Raphoe Mart, along with two other Donegal-based marts – Ballybofey & Stranorlar Mart and Inishowen Co-Operative Society Livestock Mart – made the decision to close on Friday last, March 13, amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

However, with new protocols and restrictions in place, Raphoe Mart manager, Anne Harkin, decided to reopen the Donegal-based venue for today’s sale.

Under the new restrictions, when dropping animals for sale, the farmer or haulier unloads his/her own cattle. From here, they can either leave and come back for when their animals are ready for sale, or wait in their vehicles until sale time.

Only buyers and the seller are permitted to enter the mart. Buyers sign in on arrival and wash and disinfect their hands before making their way to the sale ring; rubber gloves are also provided.

Additionally, only 50 buyers are allowed to enter the ring at any one time. While here, they must practise strict social distancing of at least 2m. Buyers around the ring are asked to stand at yellow floor markings while bidding for cattle in the ring.

The seller is only allowed to enter the mart while his/her cattle are being sold; a special area/seat is provided. Once animals are sold, the seller leaves the premises.

Social distancing must also be practiced outside the mart. Again, yellow floor markings indicate where it is appropriate for farmers to stand. However, gathering outside the mart is not advised and patrons are advised to leave the premises when finished their business.

Speaking to AgriLand, Anne said: “The sale is slowed down; but we have to keep marts open and what we trialled today worked quite well.

“The main thing we tried to do was to limit large numbers. But, there is no point limiting numbers inside while people congregate outside the mart; standing shoulder to shoulder – this is not OK.

“That’s why we have put an ‘X’ on the ground – at 2m apart – to encourage social distancing. Standing on top of one another is not acceptable, but the marks on the ground worked well,” she concluded.