The Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) has recommended that its members maintain tight measures at markets – and encourage only essential attendance – as it supports firms to continue trading responsibly throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.
IAAS, the representative body for livestock markets, valuers and auctioneers across Scotland, believes the continued operation of livestock marts is vital to ensure the supply of quality produce, gives confidence to consumers across the country that supplies will be uninterrupted and provides reassurance to farmers and other primary producers that their cash flows will be maintained.
Marts across the country today remain open and trading, within the public health guidelines provided by the UK and Scottish Governments.
While people should check specific access and sale arrangements direct with individual auction companies, IAAS, which has been supporting marts with ensuring they have the latest public health advice, has shared updated recommendations for its members to follow.
- Mart attendance should be limited to those who are buying, selling and transporting livestock. Sellers should question whether they physically need to be in attendance to see stock through the ring. No members of the general public should be on-site. People should stay no longer than necessary
- Limit the number of mart staff working on-site as far as is possible, considering safety and practical measures which need to be in place
- Anyone displaying symptoms of Covid-19 should follow Government guidelines regarding self-isolation and stay away
- Those in health groups deemed as vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 should not attend
- Anyone aged over 70 should not attend sales
- Children should not be at marts at this time
- Women who know – or suspect – they are pregnant should not attend during the outbreak
- Provide plentiful handwashing facilities and encourage people to use them, including regular verbal announcements from rostrums
- Ensure markets are thoroughly cleaned after every sale
- Review whether non-essential sales are required
Mart canteens closed following a Government directive on Friday. Any operations are now limited to a takeaway service.
People with questions about whether they should attend a mart or fall into a vulnerable group, should phone auctioneers directly to discuss their specific requirements to see what steps can be taken to ensure they can continue trading.
IAAS Executive Director Neil Wilson said: “In what is a rapidly-evolving situation, we are liaising with government and working with our members to ensure they are operating in the safest, most effective way – protecting the health and wellbeing of their customers and staff, while fulfilling their vital role in the food chain.
“I know that our members are working responsibly in unprecedented circumstances and we are recommending that they operate only with essential sale-day staff on site. We are in constant dialogue with them and remain on-hand to support them in any way we can.”
Meanwhile, the Institute – along with other leading food and farming organisations – has lobbied the Scottish Government to call for a single nationwide approach to designating key worker status.
Executive Director Neil Wilson has written to Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, asking for his urgent help in securing national key worker designation for market operations personnel, as well as other key food supply workers.
Our press release on that can be found here: Key workers