Sellers will be allowed back to mart rings later this month, sector sources have confirmed.

For a number of months, livestock sellers had to abide by a “drop and go” policy – to drop their animals at the mart and leave before the sale began

Under plans for the reopening of the sector, those selling livestock through marts will be allowed back to the marts from Monday, May 17 – the same day as the buyers.

Strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be enforced however, with social distancing firmly in place.

Last Friday (April 30), Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue confirmed that buyers may return to mart ringsides from May 17.

Online trading will continue to be facilitated, alongside the return of in-ring buying.

Buyers may attend the sales ring and view stock in pens. However, this must be done by prior appointment with the livestock mart.

Buyers who wish to be present at ringside must wear face coverings and adhere to strict 2m social distancing.

Marts must also prevent the congregation of members of the public in the mart carpark or at entry ways into mart buildings.

Marts must operate according to Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) which have been approved by their Regional Veterinary Office.

At the time the Department of Agriculture highlighted that cattle throughput from January 1 to March 14, 2021, was at 94% of the comparable period in 2020.

Sheep throughput in the same period was at 100% of the comparable period for 2020.