With farmers due to return to marts next Monday, the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has warned that buyers and sellers need to be realistic in their expectations under the less-restrictive COVID-19 protocols.

Many farmers, especially those who have received vaccines, have been contacting mart managers across the country indicating their intention to attend the mart next week,” ICOS livestock and environmental services executive Ray Doyle has said.

We’re not out of the woods just yet

“This is almost at pre-COVID levels and possibly due to the sense of security that the ongoing vaccine rollout is creating. However, we’re not out of the woods just yet.”

“We can only look forward to full business as usual next autumn, but not next week.”

Not all marts will allow sellers to attend, and some sheep sales, especially in marts that sell sheep in pens, will be continuing online sales due to social distancing requirements.

Essential travel

Despite the strong vaccine rollout, ICOS maintains it is essential for farmers not to let their guard down and that all necessary precautions should continue to be observed.

“The last thing anyone wants or needs is a resurgence of the virus. Marts are being allowed to operate under a strict set of operating procedures similar to what was operating last June,” Doyle continued.

Sellers can now return to mart centres but only where the mart centre can safely accommodate them

“In effect, buyers will be allowed back around mart ringsides at two 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 social distancing.”

ICOS has asked farmers to only travel to the 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,” Doyle concluded.