Imminent relaxation in COVID restrictions across the nations

Saturday, 17 July 2021

This week we’ve had updates from the ministers across Great Britain of forthcoming relaxations of a number of COVID restrictions from today, Saturday 17 July in Wales, and Monday 19 July in England and Scotland. Northern Ireland will review their current situation on 22 July.

While a number of restrictions are being removed or reduced, British Equestrian recommends all stakeholders in the industry to remain vigilant, respect others, and follow hygiene measures to keep everyone safe and reduce the chances of transmission of the virus.


As of Monday 19 July, England will move into Step 4 of the COVID response roadmap, which in practice means:

  • Limits on social contact will end, with no restrictions on indoor or outdoor gatherings. Accompanying guidance will be published by the government around how best to reduce the risk of transmission and protect yourself and loved ones.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings in law will be lifted. However, the government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
  • Employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business with a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks identified. Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations that employers should consider, including:
    • cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
    • identifying poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow
    • ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue
    • communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.

Helpful links

Northern Ireland

Current measures include:

  • Six people from two households can meet inside a home, with up to 10 people allowed if one household is bigger than six people (children under 12 do not count towards the total)
  • Overnight stays are permitted
  • Fifteen people from five households can also meet in a private garden
  • All indoor sport and leisure venues are open
  • Group exercise/training is permitted
  • A risk assessment must be completed if more than 15 people are participating
  • All outdoor sport is permitted
  • Number of participants to be determined by an organiser risk assessment
  • Outdoor gatherings of 30 people or fewer do not require a risk assessment
  • Face coverings and social distancing (1m for indoor activities) are legal requirements.

There has been an indicative date for further relaxing of restrictions of 26 July, subject to a review on 22 July.

Helpful links


All remaining local authorities will move to Level 0 on Monday 19 July, which means:

  • Indoor sport and physical activity is permitted, which will include the return of lead-rein lessons
  • Indoor physical distancing in other settings will be reduced from 2m to 1m
  • Outdoor physical distancing requirements will be removed for bubbles of 15 in informal settings
  • Number limits for participants on an outdoor field of play will be 500
  • Capacity limits for an indoor space will be based on a maximum occupancy of 7sqm per person. For an indoor arena of 20m x 40m size, this would allow an occupancy limit of up to 114 participants
  • Outdoor organised events will continue to comply with the size limits and processes previously set out for Level 0. Capacity at events rises to 2,000 seated outdoors, 1,000 standing and 400 indoors.

The following restrictions will continue in place:

  • Masks to be compulsory on public transport and in shops ‘for some time’
  • Hospitality venues to close at midnight
  • People should carry on working from home
  • The government has indicated most of the remaining restrictions will be lifted on 9 August.

Helpful links

horsescotland – Covid-19

sportscotland – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources

GOV.SCOT – Coronavirus in Scotland


The country completes the move to Alert level 1 on Saturday 17 July, which brings in the following:

  • Up to six people can meet indoors in private homes and holiday accommodation
  • Organised indoor events for up to 1,000 seated or 200 standing can take place, subject to risk assessment and taking reasonable measures
  • Removal of legal restrictions on the number of people who can gather outdoors
  • Up to 30 children from organisations such as the Brownies or Scouts are permitted to attend residential centres over the summer holidays
  • The limit on organised indoor activities for adults will increase to 50 people
  • The limit on organised outdoor activity for adults increases to 100 people
  • The limits on numbers do not apply if the activity is specifically organised for the development or wellbeing of children.
  • All organised activity should be consistent with the Welsh Government’s guidance regarding health, social distancing and hygiene. 
  • Face coverings still a legal requirement in all indoor public places, with exceptions for education settings and hospitality.

From Saturday 7 August, Wales will move to Alert level 0 (if conditions allow), where restrictions will relax further:

  • Removal of legal restrictions on the number of people who can meet indoors, including in private homes, public places or at events
  • All businesses and premises can open, including nightclubs
  • People should still work from home wherever possible
  • Face coverings will remain a legal requirement indoors, with the exception of hospitality premises. This will be kept under review.

Helpful links

GOV.WALES – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Jim Eyre, British Equestrian’s Chief Executive said; “This is welcome news for our industry, which has truly felt the full impact of the pandemic. The changes will allow businesses to operate more completely, events can welcome competitors and spectators in larger numbers, and we can all begin to move towards a sense of normality. However, I’d urge everyone to remain vigilant, respect others and continue to act with a degree of caution – now is not the time to undo the progress we’ve collectively made.”