By Mitchell Clarke
Livestock buyers and agents who have recently attended mass gatherings, including the Black Lives Matter rally, will be refused entry into the Pakenham VLE.
The Victorian Livestock Exchange has implemented the measures in a bid to protect the business and staff against the threat of the coronavirus.
“This is a really, really unusual environment that we’re working in,” VLE acting CEO Brian Paynter said.
“We’ve, like most businesses, tried to limit access to our facilities and we’re asking people who have attended these things, to not come to us, so we can keep our business safe.”
Mr Paynter, who has served as the VLE’s chief financial officer for the past 18 months, said all guests must sign in and declare their whereabouts.
He said that anyone who had been in contact with or travelled to areas of known clusters like the Cedar Meats outbreak, or had participated in large gatherings, would be refused entry.
“We’re just trying to protect our business and our staff. We’re not setting rules, we’re just following guidance and we’ll keep this in place until all restrictions are lifted by the State Government,” he said.
“We generally know who is coming and going, though. You don’t really just get a person turning up randomly, but if they do, they have to be registered with a stock agent.”
While Covid-19 has decimated some businesses, the VLE has remained largely unaffected.
“Vendors and agents are getting good prices. It’s all climate driven rather than virus driven,” Mr Paynter explained.
“The real impact for our business is that we’ve put in place certain measures to deal with the virus but the actual business itself hasn’t been impacted greatly, because it’s actually quite a busy time of the year for our industry.
“There may be some flow on or indirect impacts that we don’t know of yet but at this stage we’ve had a very good put through.”
Mr Paynter said beef producers had seemed to want to get cattle off their paddocks, as the wetter months took hold.
He added that a shortage of supply in Queensland and northern New South Wales, would see a lot of local cattle head up north.
“It’s business as usual here, I guess, at the moment there seems to be more cattle coming through because the prices are good,” he said.
“The virus hasn’t significantly affected that.”