While lockdown restrictions have started to ease, farmers attending livestock markets have been reminded to adhere to social distancing guidelines and ‘avoid complacency’ in order to avoid a second spike and ensure sales can continue undisrupted.
While limited numbers of vendors are now permitted ringside, provided all social distancing measures are adhered to, the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) has asked for extra understanding, given the ‘inherent difficulties’ of maintaining safe distances around the sale pens and rings.
LAA executive secretary Chris Dodds said: “There is a limit as to how many people can be safely accommodated ringside and pen side, and we ask farmers to work with us as we gradually advance towards re-opening our markets to a greater extent.
“We need customers to operate to, and abide by, the continuing social distancing measures in place. We are asking vendors to be understanding and appreciative of the need to maintain compliance with the latest Government guidelines.”
The LAA said it was working hard alongside Defra and the Welsh Government to deliver procedures to enable greater market access ahead of the crucial autumn sales.
“We know many more vendors will want to be ringside at this crucial time during the sales programme, and we are looking at solutions to accommodate them, as the situation evolves," added Mr Dodds.
He warned against complacency, with vendors encouraged to protect their own health and minimise the risk to others.
“Unfortunately, we have recently seen examples of confirmed coronavirus outbreaks and positive tests within meat and food processing plants, resulting in their temporary closure or disruption to their businesses,” said Mr Dodds.
“Our priority is of course public health, but equally we do not want to see the knock-on effects of marts having to temporarily close, or indeed, farmers put on a 14 day self-isolation, due to failures to minimise risks.”
The organisation said it feared for a second virus spike and the implications this would have on the autumn sales programme.
Farmers should therefore continue to follow the guidelines unless Government guidance changes.