COVID-19: Home nations announce next stage of easing restrictions

Friday, 12 March 2021

The four home nations of the United Kingdom have now released a number of updates that outline the easing of lockdown restrictions across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Working with our member bodies and government agencies, British Equestrian can update the equine community as we build towards a full range of activity, training and competition for our riders, vaulters and drivers, workers, coaches and other stakeholders. 


The rules on meeting people outdoors have been relaxed as of today (12 March), whereby four people from two households may now meet, which has opened up the opportunity to take part in training and sport. Specifically:

  • Four people from two households can meet in an outdoor setting
  • 12–17-year-olds can meet outdoors in groups of four, with no limit on household numbers
  • Outdoor non-contact sports and organised exercise is permitted for groups of up to 15 people (up to 30 for under 12s)

There is still a requirement for adults to stay within their local authority boundary for exercise and organised activity, while those aged 12–17 may cross into other areas. Sportscotland and horsescotland advice also indicates that anyone may travel up to five miles into a neighbouring local authority area for informal activity such as hacking or facility hire without a coach. 

We also know the following indicative dates and information:

From 5 April

  • Stay at home restriction removed
  • All children to return to school
  • Communal worship can restart with restricted numbers of 20
  • Six people from two households can meet together
  • Easing of restrictions on indoor household gatherings
  • Further essential retail can begin to re-open

From 26 April

  • All of Scotland return to Level system of restrictions
  • Phased return of non-essential retail
  • Some hospitality, leisure venues and gyms can re-open

However, these changes will be based on scientific data and meeting certain requirement, so are provisional at this stage. 

Useful information links for Scotland

sportscotland 'Return to sport and physical activity'

horsescotland COVID guidance at 12.03.21 – main guidance – travel guidance


From Saturday 13 March, restrictions were lowered in Wales, with the message moving from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay local’, where possible.  As in Scotland, up to four people from two households may meet outdoors to exercise or socialise, including in private gardens,.  The guidance for local travel is to stay within five miles of home, although those living in more remote rural areas can travel further for reasonable journeys.

From Saturday 13 March

Up to four people from two households will be able to meet outdoors in their local area, including in private gardens. Children under 11 and carers do not count towards this limit. There must be no mixing indoors and social distancing should be followed at all times outdoors.

Outdoor sports facilities can reopen, with a maximum of four people from two households permitted to take part in activities using local facilities at any one time. Equestrian venues could open for hire and activity on this basis, provided that they operate within the meeting number and travel restrictions. 

From Monday 22 March

  • The first steps to re-open non-essential retail will begin. Restrictions on the sale of non-essential items will be lifted for those shops that are currently open
  • Garden centres will also reopen

Provided the COVID data is positive, from 27 March

  • The ‘stay local’ restrictions will be lifted to allow people to travel within Wales
  • Self-contained holiday accommodation will re-open for one household
  • Organised outdoor children’s activities will restart

The review on 1 April will consider whether all remaining shops and close-contact services can reopen on the 12 April.  We are working with Sport Wales to gain further clarification on what these revised restrictions will mean across equestrianism and will update in due course. 

Useful information links for Wales – lockdown easing – coronavirus hub

Sport Wales – coronavirus information

Northern Ireland

The government has released a road map of clear steps, but with no specific dates for easing lockdowns. Reviews will be carried out at four-week intervals and are scheduled for 16 March, 15 April, 13 May and 10 June.

Indications have been made that some outdoor sports where social distancing can be maintained could resume once the lifting of lockdown restrictions begins. There is a section dedicated to sport in the recovery plan and the resumption of outdoor sport is covered in step two. 

Useful information links for Northern Ireland

NI Government roadmap

NI Government advice


In England, the main relaxation in lockdown restrictions is that two people can now meet outdoors to socialise. All pupils return to school on Monday 8 March, which included approved further education equestrian training providers. The countdown is now on to 29 March, when opportunities further open up. 

From 29 March

  • Six people or two households can meet outdoors
  • Outdoor sports facilities can open and organised sport allowed
  • Travel outside local area allowed

This indicates that organised competition, training and activity can resume from this date onwards. All equestrian centres and riding schools will be allowed to re-open, with arena hire also permitted.

From 12 April

  • Non-essential retail can open
  • Outdoor hospitality is permitted
  • Self-contained accommodation hire permitted 

Overnight stays for competition or training purposes would be permitted at this stage.

From 17 May

  • Many social contact restrictions lifted outdoors
  • Six people or two households can meet indoors
  • Indoor hospitality and hotels can open

Spectators will once again be permitted at shows, albeit with limited numbers, and restrictions on international travel could be lifted.

From 21 June

  • All legal limits on social contact removed

Useful information links for England – roadmap – coronavirus info

Summary table

  Ride for exercise Venues Riding schools Competitions Coaching

Yes – with up to three other people from a total of up to two households

Yes – for hire/use within meeting number and travel restrictions

Awaiting confirmation from Sport Wales

No – anticipated start date 12 April

Can travel for one-to-one sessions to client. Clients may travel locally, with venue hire permitted.


Yes – with up to three people from a total of up to two households

Yes – for hire/use within meeting number and travel restrictions

Yes – within meeting number and travel restrictions

No – anticipated start date 29 March

Can travel for one-to-one sessions to client. Clients may travel within their LA area, with venue hire permitted.

N. Ireland 

Yes - with your household or one other 

No - no date indicated as yet

No - no date indicated as yet

No - no date indicated as yet

Not able to work at present


Yes - with your household or one other person

No – open from 29 March

No – open from 29 March (except approved FE provision)

No – anticipated start date 29 March

Can travel for one-to-one at client’s yard only


Activity may be permitted, but venues must work within meeting number and travel restrictions, which could impact on the viability of opening for some businesses. The above table is a summary only and you are advised to seek full advice from your local authority. 

For updates on equestrian activities, coaching and sport, please visit our member body websites.