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Queensland saleyards limiting attendees - QCL

Queensland Country Life

Despite a shutdown of all non-essential businesses and Queensland closing its borders in response to COVID-19, saleyards will continue to operate.

However, in line with government advice about mass gatherings, many are limiting attendance to active participants in the day's operations and asking those who don't intend on buying livestock to not attend.

Foot traffic through the Roma Saleyards will be at odds with its position as the largest selling centre in the Southern Hemisphere, with the Maranoa Regional Council partnering with the Roma Livestock Agents Association to limit access to the laneways to only those who need to be there.

"This is for the health and wellbeing of registered buyers, agents and workers," a council statement read.

"Anyone experiencing cold or flu symptoms are requested to stay away from the facility altogether."

The introduction of compulsory registrations for all attendees are also being implemented across saleyards.

A Western Downs Council spokesperson said they had implemented measures at the Dalby Saleyards including compulsory registrations for all attendees including drivers, agents and staff, regular PA and auctioneer messaging reminding of social distancing and hygiene requirements on sale day, increased cleaning activities and ensuring the canteen is operating on a take away only basis.

Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association chief executive Peter Baldwin reminded agents early this week that the health and safety of livestock buyers in saleyards must be paramount.

"If we expect buyers to attend sales and we want their competition, we must ensure their health and safety by allowing the required amount of social distance at all times, in the yards, in administrative offices and at the whole facility," Mr Baldwin said.

He said anybody not accepting of the gravity of this situation needed to remember that livelihoods and that of industry colleagues in the food supply chain depended upon strict adherence to these protocols.

Meanwhile, Regional Livestock Exchange, operated and managed under the umbrella of AAM Investment Group, continues to implement small but important changes to the way markets are conducted at its facilities.

Regional Livestock Exchange includes the selling centres of Gracemere, Inverell, Carcoar, Singleton, Tamworth and Wodonga.

AAM managing director Garry Edwards last week announced the introduction of viewing areas, using large digital screens, to reduce crowding in saleyard laneways and walkways and plans to extend the company's online platform for remote sale-day participation, StockLive, across all sites and sales.

"This illness is one that brings many challenges, including the provision of a reliable source of safe and nutritious food, and as the manager and operator of large agricultural assets that are integral to both the domestic and export food supply chain, AAM is acutely aware of our role, and the role of our facilities, in maintaining an active and transparent market place," Mr Edwards said.

"There is absolutely no intention to cancel any sales at this point in time.

"AAM will continue to monitor the most current state and federal government advice on the situation and provide communications regarding any further advice that may require additional changes to onsite procedures."