All prize shows and non-essential auction sales have been cancelled at Hexham and Northern Marts until further notice, but weekly sales will continue under a strict, new system.

The mart announced this weekend that all sales will now operate under a drop and go system only.

This means that consignors are not permitted to attend sales to watch stock sold, but they are allowed to leave instructions for the auctioneers.

Purchasers at the sales must wear a face covering and maintain social distancing at all times.

Ringside booths should be occupied by one person only, with the exception of those attending the sales in permitted bubbles.

While the sales are on, the mart canteen will operate a takeaway service only.

Only those at the mart on business may use the canteen and people must not congregate on the premises to consume their purchases.

Instructions regarding reserve prices and 'luck money' should be highlighted on movement forms were possible.

Arrangements can be made with the mart offices as an alternative.

Meanwhile, the mart's auctioneers will only visit farms to canvass stock for sale, if invited.

The mart will not be carrying out unannounced visits for the foreseeable future and when invited on-farm will follow strict Covid guidelines. Its team of auctioneers will be contacting customers by phone and can be reached on their personal mobile numbers.

While weekly sales will continue, all prize shows and non-essential auction sales planned for the next few weeks will definitely not go ahead.

The mart is advising that people wanting details on sales in collective machinery, antiques and fur and feather should visit its website and its Facebook page.