Wednesday, 22 December 2021
The Wales First Minister has announced new restrictions for Wales to help control the spread of the new Omicron Covid variant. As of Boxing Day (26 December), no spectators be permitted at any sporting events in Wales. This will include sporting events at every level and applies to indoor, outdoor, professional and community sports.
This means that any equestrian sporting fixtures running from 26 December in Wales which are likely to attract spectators should take place behind closed doors. This will be subject to review on 6 January.
The guidance from the Welsh Government for employers, businesses and organisations operating under Alert level 0 was updated on 20 December, and any equestrian facilities and businesses are encouraged to review the document and regularly check for any further updates.
The Welsh government also have guidance for businesses and organisations on reasonable measures action cards to cover a number of facilities and events, which are updated regularly and should be useful for any equine businesses.
In Scotland, the First Minister also announced restrictions, which come in on 26 December for a period of three weeks around public events:
sportscotland has issued further guidance on what this means for sport.
From 27 December, people are being asked to limit their contacts, restrict gatherings to groups of no more than three households and to stay home as much as possible. Bars and restaurants should only operate on a table service basis where alcohol is served.
The Prime Minister has confirmed that there will be no new Covid restrictions for England before Christmas, but has not ruled out any further measures afterwards. It has also been announced that people infected with Covid in England can stop self-isolating after seven days, instead of the previous 10, if they show two negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.
As with England, any equestrian activity in both Wales and Scotland can continue with mitigating measures in place, including risk assessments, but should be reviewed to comply with the advice indicated above. Further updates from all home nations are expected over the coming days and weeks, so British Equestrian is asking stakeholders to follow the news.
“The situation is rapidly changing and with differing requirements across the nations, so I’d urge the equestrian community to exercise caution and remain vigilant,” said Chief Executive Jim Eyre. “It’s important you follow the news in your area to makes sure you’re up to date with any rules and guidance in place during the festive period and beyond. We’ll continue to monitor any updates and publish guidance to ensure activity can continue, provided it’s within any government requirements. Keep public mixing to a minimum, make sure you test before meeting others, wear a face-covering indoors and practice good hand hygiene in order to keep yourself and those around you safe.”
British Equestrian, working alongside the British Horse Society, and its member bodies, has been consulting with government on the restricted use of covered arenas and indoor schools, which had a major impact on the industry during the previous periods of lockdown. Collectively, existing research findings have been compiled, and a new study has also been commissioned, which puts forward a strong case that the application of the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 on equestrian riding facilities does not take into account their size and volume.
The submission is currently under review with Defra and we’ll keep up the momentum to try and keep our facilities open should there be another lockdown. In the meantime, any equestrian premises which use indoor or covered riding facilities, are encouraged to write to their MPs outlining their concerns for their business and the resulting impact on equine welfare, should any or all of the country come under lockdown.