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Buyers wearing masks at a South Otago sheep sale made it a challenge to recognise a bid, an auctioneer says.
All of New Zealand outside Auckland moved to Delta Alert Level 2 at 11.59pm on Tuesday last week.
The following day, pens of prime lambs and fat ewes were put up for sale at Balclutha Saleyards.
Under the new Delta rules, it was mandatory for people attending the sale to keep 2m apart, scan QR codes and wear masks.
Rural Livestock agent and auctioneer Rob Fowler said buyers wearing masks made it difficult to tell when bids were being made.
‘‘You can’t read people.’’
Many of the buyers had beanies and the hoods of their jackets on to shield themselves from bitter southwesterly weather at the sale.
During bidding, Mr Fowler asked Rural Livestock agent Logan Moore — who was buying sheep on behalf of clients — to come closer to him so his bids would be easier to spot.
Mr Moore told him it was difficult to find a closer spot without breaking the 2m rule.
When Mr Fowler saw Liam Squire in the crowd, he joked he would be used to wearing masks from his time living in Japan to play rugby.
‘‘They love them over there,’’ Mr Squire said.
PGG Wrightson head auctioneer Chris Swale said the sale at Balclutha Saleyards had attracted more sheep than he had expected.
Lockdown had hit at a better time this year for livestock sales, than when it hit last year.
‘‘Last time we were trying to sell calves — this year was was the perfect time for a lockdown.’’
PGG Wrightson livestock agent Greg Clearwater said about 30 people attended a sheep sale at Charlton Saleyards in Gore on the second day of Delta Alert Level 2 restrictions last week.
‘‘It went well — everyone had masks on except for the auctioneer. Everyone was playing the game.’’
Most of the buyers were agents buying on behalf of farmers.
The agents in masks reminded him of a scene from the ‘‘wild west’’.
‘‘They all looked like the Lone Ranger — it’s interesting times.’’