BD Update: Key Dates for Return to Play

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Thu, 01 Apr 2021 14:54

Following the latest announcements from the devolved governments this week we can provide members with an update on the key dates for the resumption of organised sport activity in England, Scotland and Wales.

British Dressage organised competition and training activity has been able to restart this week outdoors in England and at local level in Scotland, which is a welcome return.  However, the easing of restrictions will be a gradual step-by-step process, dependant on the progress achieved at each stage, and all three nations are once again moving at a different pace.

Today it was confirmed that organised sport activity will not be able to resume in Wales until 3 May at the earliest outdoors and 17 May indoors.  This is longer than anticipated and disappointing news for our Welsh members, but will not affect our operational plans or major dates already announced.  We will continue to lobby through the Welsh Sports Association for individual non-contact sport to restart at the earliest opportunity, in line with the opening of outdoor hospitality on 26 April.

Here is a summary of the key dates for each nation and how it will affect equestrian activity:


Step 1, from 29 March:

  • All outdoors sport facilities, including riding centres, are able to re-open.
  • Outdoor sport for adults and children is permitted to take place with any number of participants, where it is formally organised and follows COVID-secure guidance.
  • Participants do not need to be socially distanced whilst participating but this should be maintained at other times, such as during breaks in play.
  • Social gatherings before and after participation should only take place in groups of up to six people or two households.
  • Spectators are only permitted as carers for people with disabilities or adults who need to supervise under-18s in a safeguarding role.
  • Informal sport and physical activity can take place outdoors but must be limited to groups of six people or two households.
  • You are permitted to travel for the purposes of exercise and to take part in both organised and informal sport activity. Overnight stays are not permitted at this stage.

It has been clarified that for Step One, indoor riding arenas can only be used for British Dressage competitions or training activity under these specific exceptions:

  • Organised disability sport, including Para Equestrian activity
  • Supervised sport and physical activity for Under 18s, limited to 15 participants
  • Elite sports people, restricted to athletes on the World Class Programme (P1 and P2)

Step 2, from 12 April at the earliest:

  • Indoor facilities will be allowed to re-open, including riding arenas, sports courts, gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres, for use individually or with household groups.
  • Indoor sporting activities for children will be able to take place, with no limits on numbers.
  • Outdoor hospitality will also be able to reopen at this step.

On this basis, individual riding activity that takes place using indoor facilities, including participating in BD competitions and one-to-one training, will be able to resume from 12 April onwards. No mixing of households will be permitted, excluding officials and operational staff working in a professional capacity at the venue; therefore, indoor arenas cannot be used for warm-up purposes, unless operating on a one-in-one-out basis.

Step 3, from 17 May at the earliest:

  • Organised adult indoor group sports and exercise classes will be able to resume.

This stage will also see the return of some spectators at sporting events, as follows:

  • Indoor events will be able to have 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower.
  • Outdoor events will be able to take place at a capacity of 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.
  • For large, outdoor venues, crowds will be permitted up to 10,000 people or 25% of capacity, whichever is lower.

Step 4, from 21 June at the earliest:

  • All legal limits on social contact will be removed, with events taking place at capacity restrictions above those in Step 3.

Useful links for England - main guidance

Sport England - latest guidance


Outdoor non-contact sports and organised exercise is permitted for groups of up to 15 people for adult activity, or up to 30 people for under 12s.  BD activity is currently operating in Scotland on the following basis, applicable from 12 March onwards:

  • Adults (18 years and over) can only take part in organised activity, including training and competitions, within their own Local Authority area.
  • For those aged 12 years and over (including adults) an outdoor sporting ‘field of play bubble' is restricted to up to 15 people, including coaches.
  • Children under 12 years of age can take part in outdoor contact and non-contact organised sport, including training, group exercise and competition activity.
  • An outdoor sporting ‘field of play bubble’ for under 12’s consists of up to 30 people, including coaches, at any one time.
  • For informal activity, such as hacking or facility hire, adults can travel up to five miles into a neighbouring Local Authority area.
  • Young people (17 years old and under) have an exemption to allow travel to their usual club or facility, including to a national club venue where regular organised activity takes place. Where it is a national club event, cross border travel is permitted for organised activity.

The latest update from HorseScotland includes the following key changes that will see Scotland move down each of the restriction levels:

Level 4, from 5 to 25 April:

  • Outdoor contact sport is temporarily permitted for under 18’s only, to allow activity to start.
  • Outdoor sport for under 12’s is subject to a maximum of 30 people, including coaches. 
  • Outdoor sport for 12-17 year olds is subject to a maximum of 15 people, including coaches.

Level 3, from 26 April:

  • Adults will be permitted to participate in individual exercise indoors; indoor group exercise will be permitted for up to four people from two households.
  • Outdoor contact sport and activity will be permitted for under 12s.
  • Outdoor bubbles can have a maximum of 30 participants. Multiple bubbles should not come into contact or cross over with each other before, during or after activity.

Level 2, from 17 May:

  • Indoor adult non-contact group activity can restart.
  • Maximum bubble sizes are still to be confirmed for Levels 0-2.  This is currently under review by Scottish Government.

Please note that for the purposes of this guidance, covered arenas are classified as outdoor sport facilities by the Scottish Government.

Useful links for Scotland

sportscotland 'Return to sport and physical activity'

horsescotland COVID guidance at 31.03.21 – main guidance travel guidance


The Welsh Government today confirmed that the following key dates will apply for the relaxation of restrictions in Wales:

From 27 March:

  • Organised sport activity for children aged under 18 can restart.
  • Self-contained holiday accommodation can re-open.

From 12 April:

  • All essential and non-essential shops will re-open.
  • Cross border travel into England will be permitted, including for the purposes of participating in sport or physical activity.

From 26 April:

  • Outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, will be allowed to reopen;
  • Outdoor hospitality can resume, including at cafes, pubs and restaurants.
  • Indoor hospitality will remain restricted.

From 3 May:

  • Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people can again take place;
  • Weddings receptions can take place outdoors, but will also be limited to 30 people.

From 10 May:

  • Two households will be allowed to meet and have contact indoors.
  • Indoor gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen. This will include individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.

From 17 May, subject to review on 13 May:

  • Children’s indoor activities will be permitted, with no specified limit on numbers.
  • Organised indoor activities for adults, limited to a maximum of 15 people. This includes exercise classes.

Useful links for Wales – lockdown easing – coronavirus hub

Sport Wales – coronavirus information