Farmers are being asked to wear masks in marts around the country from today, as Covid restrictions are imposed in Kildare, Offaly and Laois.
ICOS Co-operative Marts and Associated Livestock Marts (ALM) have requested that people going to marts wear face coverings on an ongoing basis.
The move follows new laws which were introduced by the Government this week which makes it mandatory to wear face masks in all retail outlets.
While the wearing of face coverings in marts is not mandatory, and predominantly marts involve outdoor areas, the marts feel it is wise to encourage all patrons to wear coverings when around the auction ring and in mart offices.
“The reintroduction of Covid-19 restriction measures in the midlands indicates the continuing potential for infection to take place in communal settings. Everyone is delighted that the marts are back in operation because they play such an important part in the free trade of livestock and the economy of rural Ireland," Ray Doyle of ICOS and Eric Driver of Associated Livestock Marts said in a joint statement.
“Face coverings help prevent people who don’t know they have the virus from spreading it to others. It’s essential also to maintain good sneeze and cough etiquette and to follow all public health guidelines including regular and thorough hand washing. We must all do whatever we can to minimise the spread of Covid-19, so we’re asking people to stay safe, protect each other and ‘mask up in the marts’.”
Marts had reopened in mid June following a lockdown period that lasted several weeks due to Covid-19. Despite marts having to follow strict protocols to reduce the spread of Covid-19 such as reduced numbers attending marts, social distancing, handwashing etc. mart trade has remained reasonably strong over the past few weeks.
The recommended coverings include disposable or cloth masks which thoroughly cover the mouth and nose, or a plastic see through face visor, in line with public health guidelines.