With marts due to reopen next Monday, farmers should be realistic about what to expect under the less restrictive COVID protocols which will remain in place.
That’s according to the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) which has said that many farmers have been in contact with mart managers indicating that they intend to go to the mart next week.
Ray Doyle, Livestock & Environmental Services Executive of ICOS, said this is almost at pre-COVID levels and possibly due to the sense of security that the ongoing vaccine rollout is creating.
But Mr Doyle said that farmers must remember that ‘we’re not out of the woods just yet’.
“Depending on local circumstances, not all marts will allow sellers to attend, and some sheep sales, especially in marts that sell sheep in pens, will be continuing sales as is due to the necessity to maintain social distancing,” he said.
“We can only look forward to full business as usual next Autumn – but not next week.
“We welcome the fact that the vaccine rollout is progressing strongly, however it is essential for nobody to let their guard down and that all necessary precautions should continue to be observed.”
Mr Doyle said that where applicable, most marts will be operating a restricted ringside at 2 metres distancing, and will be continuing the clearance of the mart yard when the sales commence due to Covid-related management requirements as stipulated by DAFM and the public health authorities.
“The last thing anyone wants or needs is a resurgence of the virus,” he said.
“Marts are being allowed to operate under a strict set of operating procedures similar to what was operating last June.
“In effect buyers will be allowed back around mart ringsides at 2 metres social distancing plus mandatory mask wearing. Sellers can now return to mart centres but only where the mart centre can safely accommodate them and can martial the 2 metre social distancing.
“Please only travel to your local mart if it is absolutely essential. General visitors and observers should not attend marts.
“Adherence to the reopening plans for society and the economy is essential so that we can ensure a full reopening of marts on as near as normal a basis as possible over the coming months.”