Farmers in Northern Ireland have been urged to follow strict COVID-19 guidelines that have been put in place at marts to ensure they remain open.
The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has said it is critical everyone obeys protocols to keep themselves safe and ensure live buying and selling can continue.
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) could order marts to close at any stage, the UFU said. In recent days, several clusters have been pinpointed across Northern Ireland, resulting in the closure of many businesses and sports facilities.
“Farmers are receiving a good return for their stock and we want this to continue but farmers attending the mart need to be sensible and ensure they are following the COVID-19 protocols at all times,” UFU president Victor Chestnutt said.
“There is no room for error at this stage of the pandemic as we have seen how easily a cluster can happen and the consequences of it with the immediate closing of facilities.”
Marts are providing personal protective equipment to staff working in close proximity with farmers, and Chestnutt has called on farmers to exercise extra caution.
“Sellers at the mart should make their way home as soon as their livestock are sold to help prevent large crowds forming, as should those who have purchased stock. As well as this, everyone needs to continue social distancing and washing their hands.
“The last thing any of us wants is the closure of marts again. This would be a disaster and would be a huge step back for the farming industry,” he concluded.