Welshpool Livestock Market will close next week after an outbreak of coronavirus among members of staff.
The Powys market, which regularly sees the largest weekly sale of fat lambs in the UK – some 5,000 at this time of year – is believed to be the first to close its doors.
Rhayder Livestock Market, which is owned by the same firm, will also close with a total of four sheep and cattle sales cancelled or postponed across the two sites.
The Rhayder market which was held on the Thursday (5 November) was operated with a different set of staff who had not been in contact with the infected workers, the company said.
Welshpool is scheduled to reopen for sales on Monday 16 November as normal.
Jonathan Evans, auctioneer and partner at Welshpool Livestock Sales, said that closing the market was the morally right thing to do to protect staff and farmers.
“We had two members of staff have symptoms last weekend. They did not come into market on Monday.
“Subsequently, they tested positive and, out of an abundance of caution for the sake of our staff and farmers, the decision was taken to voluntarily shut down.”
The risk of the outbreak spreading to farmers is extremely low as the market has been operating a drop-and-go policy in line with Wales’ “firebreak” lockdown restrictions, Mr Evans said.
“I am hoping the closure will send a message to everyone about how serious this virus is and how it can spread,” he added.
Yesterday, 30 people died with coronavirus in Wales, according to the latest figures, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,969.
A further 1,272 people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 56,927, according to Public Health Wales.
Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) executive secretary Chris Dodds said: “The LAA, in conjunction with Defra and the Welsh government has set out safety guidelines and robust safety protocols to minimise risks of Covid-19 among our clients and staff.
“Public health is of paramount importance and, in line with government guidelines, our protocols are clear that in such cases where an outbreak has been connected to a member market, suitable precautions will be taken.
“The LAA is aware Welshpool is implementing precautions to safeguard the health of customers and its staff, and it has been an individual business decision to close the operation temporarily.”