CUMBRIAN farmers are being asked to take Covid lateral flow tests before visiting a livestock mart in Scotland – and only attend if they are fit and well and should not be isolating.

The recommendation from the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) has been made in response to rising cases of the Omicron variant. Social distancing is also being reintroduced at market premises in Scotland.

Meanwhile, people aged under 16 can no longer attend market sales until further notice, and only those who are conducting business are allowed to enter the live sales ring.

Neil Wilson, executive director of the IAAS, said: “As the Omicron Covid-19 variant takes hold and the number of cases is increasing rapidly, Scottish livestock auction markets have updated their guidance for customers attending markets in line with changes in legislation and advice received from Scottish government.” said Mr Wilson.

“The main addition to the current guidance is the reintroduction of physical distancing throughout market premises. These measures are being taken to keep people safe, reduce the spread of the virus and protect the livestock trade and our role in the food chain.”

The IAAS has also issued the following guidance: Pre-notify the market if you are expecting to attend. This will assist with completion of mandatory Test and Protect information; Attendees must wear a face covering in the market unless exempt; Attendees must use hand-washing/sanitising facilities on entry to market and throughout; Attendees must follow all physical distancing requirements around market premises; The IAAS strongly recommends that vendors adopt the “drop and go” policy previously in place.

The IAAS anticipates an increase in inspections from local authorities and police to enforce these updated measures. It also expects market staff to take a strong stance with anyone not adhering to the rules.