With Covid lockdown measures being strengthened across the country, the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) has issued updated guidance to its members to ensure continued safe trade at livestock markets.

The devolved UK governments all agree that livestock markets play a vital role in the efficient supply of product into the food chain, and have therefore stated that these businesses should remain open.

The LAA has strongly recommended that all livestock sales, conducted within a livestock market, adopt a “drop and go” policy.

The sale of prime stock, cull animals, store and breeding stock is still permitted. Sales of machinery, on farm dispersal sales (one vendor), sales of fodder and other goods should be conducted online, where possible.

All canteens and/or catering facilities will offer a takeaway service only.

Key guidelines include:

• A “drop and go” policy for vendors.

• Buyer restrictions to allow for social distancing, with no more people at the ringside than the two-metre gap allows. Wearing face coverings is not a substitute for the need to maintain social distancing at all times.

• Face coverings must be worn by everyone attending the site, within enclosed spaces – exemptions are permitted for anyone with a medical condition that allows a face covering not to be worn.

• Markets will ensure that the highest hygiene measures and hand washing facilities are in place.

• Markets will keep a register of those that attend their sales – contact name, address and telephone number.

Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the LAA said: “The LAA appreciates the continued support and understanding of our clients and operating member marts. Our priorities are to protect public health while still being able to supply the food chain, and therefore we will do everything possible to mitigate the risk of further virus spread.”

The latest measures are expected to stay in force until mid-February. Buyers and vendors are urged to contact their local auctioneer for specific measures within individual livestock markets.