COVID restrictions update for Scotland and Wales
- Written By:
Following announcements this week by First Ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakesford, we can now provide members with an update on plans for the easing of restrictions in Scotland and Wales over the coming weeks.
The good news is that limited non-contact sport activity is permitted from today, Friday 12 March, in Scotland and tomorrow, Saturday 13 March, in Wales, albeit with restrictions still in place initially. This will enable equestrian centres and riding schools to re-open for arena hire and training activity, within the numbers permitted, although there is still a requirement to ‘stay local’ in both countries.
The general rules on meeting people outdoors have been relaxed, with effect from Friday 12 March:
• 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 households
• Outdoor non-contact sports and organised exercise is permitted for groups of up to 15 people (up to 30 people for under 12s).
horsescotland have been working closely with sportscotland to provide specific advice and guidance for the equestrian sector and have confirmed that the following restrictions now apply:
• Children under 12 years of age can take part in outdoor contact and non-contact organised sport, including training, group exercise and competition activity within their usual club or facility environment.
• An outdoor sporting ‘field of play bubble’ for under 12's consists of up to 30 people, including children and coaches, at any one time. For those 12 years and over (including adults) a ‘field of play bubble' is restricted to up to 15 people, including coaches.
• Adults (18 years and over) can only take part in organised activity, including training and competitions, within their own Local Authority area. For informal activity, such as hacking or facility hire, they 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.
These welcome changes now allow British Dressage to plan ahead for the return of BD affiliated activity in Scotland from Monday 29 March, although due to the local travel restrictions that remain in place it will be for individual venues to determine whether or not competitions will be viable in their area.
A further update is anticipated from the Scottish government on Tuesday 16 March, where further details are expected to be released, which will have an impact on how competitions will be run over coming weeks. The BD team is currently working on alternative contingency plans, should local travel restrictions not be lifted within the anticipated timeframes.
In the meantime, venues will be able to re-open for facility hire and lessons, while riders can resume training and begin their own preparations to get ‘competition ready’ with their support team. This is subject to the restrictions that remain in place and adhering to the COVID secure protocols previously issued, including all necessary social distancing and hygiene measures.
Useful information links for Scotland:
As from tomorrow, Saturday 13 March, restrictions will also be reduced in Wales, with the main message changing from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay local’, where possible. As in Scotland, up to four people from two households can meet outdoors, including private gardens, to exercise or socialise. The guidance for local travel is within five miles of home, although those living in more remote rural areas can travel further for reasonable journeys.
Outdoor sports facilities can also reopen for use by those that reside in the local area, so equestrian venues will be able to re-open for hire and activity, within the numbers permitted. This is again subject to the COVID secure protocols that were previously put in place for venues, including adherence to all social distancing and hygiene measures. The key dates over the coming weeks as follows:
From Saturday 13 March:
• Up to four people from two households will be able to meet in their local area outdoors, 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.
• Outdoor sports facilities can reopen, with a maximum of four people from two households permitted to take part in activities using local sports facilities at any one time.
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, which are currently open.
• Garden centres will also reopen.
If the public health conditions continue to be favourable, 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.
• Libraries will reopen.
The review on 1 April will consider whether all remaining shops and close contact services can reopen on the 12 April. It is at this point we anticipate that BD organised competition activity will be able to resume in Wales, within restricted number limits, subject to the viability of shows at local level.
Useful information links for Wales:
BD CEO Jason Brautigam commented; “While both First Ministers delivered their updates with a degree of caution, the overall message was extremely positive and gives us more confidence that Scotland and Wales will be able to resume competition activity alongside England in the weeks ahead.
“Final confirmation around numbers and travel restrictions will be required to present a full picture, but thanks to the flexibility and understanding of our organisers we were still able to run the sport last year under a variety of different limitations, so I have every confidence we will do so again.
“We will continue to work with our venues across England, Scotland and Wales to prepare for the restart of BD competitions and training from 29 March onwards, within whatever restrictions remain in place at this time, and we’ll provide further updates for members as soon as they become available.”
Please refer to our Sport Operational Plan for details on our ‘return to play’ roadmap for competition, qualification series and championships in both the current summer season, which will now run from 29 March to 30 June, as well as the forthcoming winter season that will start as normal on 1 July 2021.
We’ve released updated FAQs for members following the release of our plan and the recent government updates to help with your queries and get best prepared for the restart but don’t forget you can email us for help.