Livestock market set to re-open after coronavirus closure
Norwich Livestock Market is set to re-open with a strict new social distancing regime after changing its initial decision to suspend trading during the coronavirus lockdown.
Directors of the fortnightly auction on Hall Road said it will resume on May 16 “to keep the food chain moving” and enable farmers to buy and sell cattle and sheep.
Livestock auctions, due to their important role in supplying meat into the public food chain, were allowed to continue during the lockdown if they implemented a series of protective measures – but last month the Norwich market took its own decision to close temporarily for the safety of its staff and the farmers who gather there.
Now market chairman Stephen Lutkin said that decision has been reversed after discussions with directors, staff and traders.
He said the market will re-open in line with guidance from the government and the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association Limited (LAA), with new measures including a “drop and go” policy requiring vendors to stay in their vehicles when bringing animals for sale, only allowing registered sellers to attend, and enforcing strict two-metre social distancing rules across the site on sale days.
“The directors had a chat and the staff are prepared to come back to work now,” said Mr Lutkin. “We have sold some animals through private sales but we have got some sellers who would rather sell through the market.
“This social distancing will be with us for a long while to come, so we decided to get back to some sort of normality – but we are all going to have to work strictly within the rules.
“We need to keep the market running to keep the food chain moving, but for the market to run we have got to do everything by the book.
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“Only registered buyers will be allowed to attend the market, with two-metre social distancing, while sellers will need to observe a new drop-and-go system to drop off their animals without leaving their vehicles. Then they must go home and wash their trailers out so they are not coming into contact with people here.”
Mr Lutkin said the market had also been buoyed by this week’s announcement that regulators had agreed to lift the ban on selling breeding animals at markets, which had previously meant the market could only sell store cattle or finished animals.
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