Farmers in Northern Ireland (NI) still have access to essential services amid the latest restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

On Monday evening, the UK government announced that all non-essential premises must close.

However, guidance published afterwards states that hardware stores are amongst stores exempt from the requirement to close.

This should be also applicable to most agricultural merchants in NI, provided certain measures are in place to reduce face-to-face contact. These include:

  • Ensuring a distance of 2m between customers and workers.
  • Only small groups are allowed to enter the shop.
  • Queue control is in place outside the premises.
  • Fane Valley operates the largest chain of agricultural stores in NI and most of its outlets were open on Tuesday.

    Only Fane Valley stores that are within marts have been closed and social distancing protocols are in place at all other shops.

    Feed mills and vets

    Feed mills are also operational and on-farm deliveries are currently still able to take place.

    Vets are available for emergency care and to write urgent prescriptions.

    However, the British Veterinary Association and the Royal College of Voluntary Surgeons said that they are “urgently seeking clarification” over some of the guidance published by the UK government.

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