The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that social distancing rules and limits on the number of people attending individual ringsides in livestock marts no longer apply.
However, staff and customers must continue to wear masks in marts “for now”.
Minister Charlie McConalogue has welcomed the developments following An Taoiseach’s address to the nation on Friday, January 21st.
Micheál Martin announced that government agreed to remove “most” public health measures from 6 am on January, 22nd, 2022.
Social distancing rules
In a statement this afternoon (Monday, January 24th, 2022), Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, said:
“This is a great day for our network of marts across the country. Buyers can now return to the ring without the previous limits on numbers. Online sales can continue as part of a blended approach.”
“Mart managers, their staff as well as buyers and sellers of livestock have shown tremendous resilience, agility and resourcefulness during the pandemic in dealing with the challenges of Covid-19 while continuing to trade online and at the ring.”
Minister McConalogue paid tribute to the efforts of mart staff and farmers in keeping marts operational throughout the pandemic.
“I am convinced the efforts of farmers and marts, adhering to the Covid-19 measures, has undoubtedly played a role in minimising and reducing the threat of Covid19 in our communities while protecting Ireland’s food security.”
Meanwhile, government warned that “the pandemic is not over and the emergence of new variants, with increased levels of transmissibility, immune escape and/or virulence remains a risk both nationally and globally, particularly in the context of continued high levels of infection and variance in vaccine supply and uptake globally”.
Martin’s address to the nation
Addressing the nation on Friday evening, Martin said that the latest NPHET report shows that Ireland has “weathered the Omicron storm”.
He added that the report confirmed that Ireland’s “world-class” vaccination programme and the roll-out of boosters has “utterly transformed our situation”.
“I want to be clear that the pandemic isn’t over. It will still require all of us to be vigilant,” he outlined.
“The changes we are making will likely lead to a temporary rise in infections in the short term. However, we are advised that the impact of this rise will be limited by the scale of vaccination in the population.”
“It is important also to say that I can’t promise you there won’t be further twists in this pandemic requiring different decisions in the future.”
“But I do know this: solidarity with each other and trust in science has got us to where we are today. They will get us through whatever else this virus may throw at us,” he added.