Looking up from the paperwork presented to her by the farmer two places in front of me in the queue, the women behind the counter at Kilkenny Mart rises and spreads her arms wide indicating distance.
"Stop, you're all too close. Go back the two metres and stay there!"
I and three others shuffled backwards separating further as we did so.
I had phoned earlier to inquire about the protocol for the mart's first day back in business under the new regime. "You will sign in at the office," I was told.
So on arrival, I sign my name, give my phone number and with my hands sanitised proceed down the hall towards the red-shirted security guard on duty at the only door allowing access to the main sales ring.
The ring is fully occupied so I have to wait. I head to the overhead walkways.
I note several men wearing gloves at various points leaning over the guard rail studying the stock beneath them. Another walks silently past wearing a mask.
In due course I am admitted to the inner sanctum and am allocated one of the 40 socially distanced seats.
The row in front of me is completely taped off, as in the row behind me.
The auctioneer is in full flow, separated from the seller and clerking officer by Perspex screens.
Five 275kg Friesian bullocks are in the ring. "460, 470, 480" - the auctioneer is in full flow as he scans his audience for more interest.
He glances down at his computer display screen: "490 online...now 500 online." The hammer falls.
The next three lots see a 560kg Charolais make €1,190; four 554kg Limousin-crosses see €1,170/hd and five very nice 517kg Simmentals make €1,160/hd. All sell to the ring as those online fall away.
Then with the hammer about to fall at €1,110 for a 490kg Charolais-cross, the auctioneer asks for €1,120. There is a pause: "I had eleven-ten online before you bid" - his comments are directed to a man on one of the top most rows of seats. "No?" The hammer falls. "Next lot"
The sale proceeds very efficiently, but I note a number of things.
Firstly, once allocated a seat very few of those present leave; there is very little in the way of conversation and none of the traditional social interaction.
No back-slapping, no overly loud conversations and no "claiming" of stock about to come off the weigh bridge by the dealing fraternity.
One seller has his phone to hand, apparently watching his price online, despite also being on the seller's rostrum as the bids come in. The assumption that all online buyers are miles away sitting at home or in their tractors is wrong.
I spot several buyers in quiet locations away from the ring gazing intently into their phones, fingers pressing the screen, before putting the device away, looking satisfied.
Mart manager, Michael Lynch, confirms my suspicions: "Yes, a number of buyers online are actually here. They've looked at the cattle and they prefer the anonymity.
"They don't have to look the opposition in the eye," he tells me.
I can see the advantage. Gone for the moment therefore, are the ringside fits and accusations of traitorous bidding.
Gone for the moment also is the buzz of the mart, the easy conversations, friends meeting, the exchange of information, the camaraderie.
Gone too are the little dramas, the agent or dealer collaring a seller with stock either unbought or unsold in the hope of doing business, and gone too are the stories to be told thereof.