RSPCA Assured has announced a three-phased return to in-person farm assessments, as Covid-19 restrictions ease.
From Monday June 1, members who are due an assessment will offered a physical in-person audit. These will only be carried out with the mutual agreement of both the assessor and member, and will not be mandatory, the assurance scheme said.
It stressed that strict social distancing measures will be observed by RSPCA Assured assessors, in line with the latest Government guidelines. To further safeguard the welfare of both assessors and members, the scheme has also developed its own ‘contactless’ guidelines for on-farm assessments. These include the following requirements:
- Assessor to take their own temperature on the day of assessment
- PPE, including face mask, to be worn by assessor throughout the visit
- Assessor to use their own pen for signing paperwork
- Member to prepare any paperwork, medicines and equipment in advance for assessor to review in a safe area away from other farm staff
- Member to be asked to open all gates and doors for the assessor.
Where in-person assessments are not possible, they will continue to be carried out via live streaming in line with the temporary measures that have been in place since April 27 (although in-person assessments have continued to be carried out on farms where incidents/complaints relating to animal welfare have been reported, or as part of any special measures agreed with the member).
The timings of the next two phases will be subject to the latest Government Covid-19 guidance, including that of devolved Governments, as well as other factors such as available resources.
RSPCA Assured CEO Clive Brazier said: “The welfare of the animals and producers in our scheme remains our priority. Members should be reassured that at every phase of our return to in-person assessments, we will be following the latest Government advice. If that advice means we have to go back a phase, then that’s what we will do.
“All of us at RSPCA Assured are impressed at how well our members have adjusted to virtual audits during this challenging time. I hope news of our plan to return to ‘normal’, shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this difficult time by continuing to work together.”
Further information on RSPCA’s Assured three-phased plan and the full set of contactless guidelines can be found here.