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FAQs about Public Health Measures September 2020

Updated 1 September 2020

The latest Government restrictions in place in Ireland are available on Additional localised restrictions that were in place in August have now been lifted for Counties Laois, Offaly and Kildare. The latest restrictions that apply nationwide include restrictions on the number of people gathering  and the advice to continue working from home where possible.  Nationwide travel is permitted. However, overseas travel is not recommended except for essential reasons.

For more details, please visit or see the FAQs relating to agri-food sectors on the Covid-19 Hub on These sites have a great deal of information which may answer your questions. The agriculture website also contains many Information Line numbers for our various schemes and services.


Is the Department open for business?

The Department remains open for business though  the public offices are closed to public visitors for the present. The Department can be reached at the normal contact numbers, or by e mail. There is a specific COVID-19 Information Line at: 076 1064468

Our phone lines are open from 9:30am to 12:30pm and from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.  A range of online facilities are also available

Do farmers or other essential workers aged over 70 have to cocoon?

It  is now strongly recommended that people over 70 reduce the amount of time spent outdoors with the general public, visit shops at specific times and limit the number of people with whom they are in contact. Everybody should continue to practice social distancing, good hand hygiene and wear face coverings in shops, marts and places where social distancing is not possible. If there are essential tasks on the farm which require more than one person, older farmers should not hesitate to ask for help from family and neighbours but should ensure that social distancing is possible, that is stay at least 2 metres apart.

If an older farmer needs additional help or has any concerns, they should ring the local community support Information Line (there is one in each local authority area) or the local Garda station. Anyone who visits the farm, including farm workers, contractors and farm relief services, should ensure that they maintain 2 metre physical distancing.

Are Marts open?

The Department has agreed protocols to allow marts to continue to operate, albeit on a limited and controlled basis, so that livestock sales could continue during the period of restrictions. Mart services including public auctions recommenced with appropriate protocols in accordance with the Government roadmap on 8th June.

Each mart operates under a “Covid 19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)” which must be signed off by the Department. Adherence to the SOP is a condition of the Mart’s  licence and is  mandatory.  Numbers attending the Marts are restricted to 50 people with a minimum distance of 1 metre required.

The wearing of face coverings from Monday 24th August  is now compulsory in all marts throughout  the country.

Marts not implementing this policy risk losing their licence to operate.

What oversight does the Department exercise  over  Food Processing Plants?

In addition to its normal oversight role in relation to food safety, animal health and animal welfare, this Department is an essential component of the National Standing Oversight Committee on COVID-19 for food processing plants and this work will continue and expand as necessary. Department inspection staff have been carrying out inspections at these facilities on behalf of the HSA.

An essential part of the latest measures is greater inspection and enforcement arrangements to ensure that premises are operating safely and within Regulations and guidelines.

Schemes, Payments, Inspections

Will farm payments be made on time?

DAFM has introduced a range of measures for handling scheme applications and payment processing to take account of  the latest public health guidelines ( with a strong focus on telephone, text messaging and online interaction with customers).  These measures are being kept under review. Ireland has also sought and achieved flexibilities at EU level to allow scheme payments to be delivered later this year as usual even though all  the  regulatory checks and controls may not be completed on time.

Will farm inspections continue?

The Department has recommenced routine on-farm visits in order to minimise any delays in payments and to meet scheme requirements. Our priority remains unchanged.  The health & safety of our customers, our staff and their families is paramount.  Our Inspecting Officers are required to follow best practice and  the latest HSE guidelines on Hygiene throughout the inspection process.