The risk of a livestock market being shut down due to Covid-19 restrictions remains very real.
The Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) has asked everyone who visits a market to ask themselves if they want to be responsible for causing such a closure with all its financial and trade disrupting implications.
“Covid is not going anywhere – and anyone who comes to a mart behaving as if it is, risks more than just their own health,” said Neil Wilson, IAAS’ executive director.
“We are all tired of Covid, but the moment any of us start to pretend the pandemic is over, could very well be the moment our business is over.”
His warning comes in the middle of the autumn season when farmers particularly rely on the auction ring with buyers from all over the UK travelling to Scottish marts.
Sales currently depend on more staff members than usual to manage the precautions and restrictions marts have put in place, many of which are required by law.
“These people are critical to ensuring the sales can go ahead,” said Mr Wilson. “So if it a customer who is feeling unwell or has been in contact with someone showing signs of Covid, decides to come to a mart and infects members of staff, we may have little choice but to shut the premises.
“Shutting down would not be for a day, but for two weeks. During this very busy sales period any closure could cost the auction and farming industries thousands of pounds.
“If you feel unwell in any way, if you have been in contact with someone who is feeling unwell, or has tested positive for Covid, please stay at home. There is no excuse to do otherwise.”
All marts have alternative ways for customers to take part. These include online live auctions, live webcams which can help phone bidding and asking a trusted friend, neighbour or auctioneer to bid for you.
The golden rules also still stand at marts: Stay 2m apart, use the hand gel and wash stations frequently, and exercise common sense and care for others. The wearing of face masks is also strongly recommended.