Independent TD, Danny Healy-Rae, is among those who have reacted furiously to the implementation of stricter Covid-19 measures in livestock marts.
Under Level 5, the mart is “no longer a public auction but rather an auction by appointment whereby all sellers and buyers must give advance notice of their intention to attend the centre”, as described by ICOS.
Under Level 5, sales will be held virtually in line with the following advice and guidance issued by ICOS:
- Face coverings are mandatory and must be worn. Hand washing is essential and sanitising gels must be used;
- All sellers dropping animals must then immediately leave the mart premises;
- Sellers must be available to receive phone calls to accept /decline final bids for livestock, by arrangement with their local mart.
- Potential buyers must contact the mart manager to arrange and get approval to view livestock before the sale.
- Social distancing of 2 metres is obligatory at all times and “there is to be no waiting or hanging around by customers on the premises”;
- When the viewing time is up, all potential buyers must leave the mart premises and bid remotely online;
- As is currently the case, all people attending the mart must have their time and mobile number recorded;
- Any mart not online can use a tendering system as was in place last March. Sales cannot start if buyers are on the premises.
‘Not one single case happened in any mart’
Raising the matter during Leader’s Questions yesterday (Tuesday, October 20th), the Kerry-based representative called on the government to review measures for livestock marts under level 5.
“It is very unfair Taoiseach and farmers are very hurt. Farmers themselves can’t go in to sell their cattle.”
“It is very unfair as not one single [Covid-19] case happened in any mart. They obeyed the rules. Other businesses that didn’t break any rules feel let down as well.”
“It’s going to mean a difference of €100-€200/head less for farmers if you are going to stop them from going into the marts to sell their cattle. It is very wrong.”
“They [marts] were very well controlled and everything was absolutely impeccable,” he stressed.
In response, Martin said: “First of all, I would say level 5 is difficult, challenging and is a lockdown situation.”
“Everybody says it didn’t happen here. I don’t know where the virus starts. If I were to add up a list of places of where it didn’t happen, one would be hard-pressed to find where the virus actually begins.”
“The virus spreads from people to people. Public health advice is that the fewer social contacts we have the better all-round, particularly now because there is such a high community transmission of the virus and the incident rate is so high that they want to reduce any congregation where they possibly can.”
“Unfortunately, that includes marts and that is the position from the public health advice.”
“I accept that, that the principle of congregation is correct and that is where the virus spreads most, when people gather, meet and engage. We have to reduce people’s social contacts.” the Taoiseach concluded.