Fresh advice for owners and riders as first local lockdown imposed

  • Equestrians in Leicester have been advised they can still ride, but are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible as the city goes back into lockdown.

    The government announced on Monday (29 June) that Leicester, and surrounding suburbs, was to be the first area in the UK to go into localised lockdown following an increase in coronavirus cases.

    Schools and non-essential shops are closed and the relaxation of restrictions in England due to come into effect tomorrow (4 July) will not apply to Leicester.

    British Equestrian (BEF) issued further advice to riders and owners living in the affected area last night (2 July).

    “You’re advised to stay at home as much as possible and strictly observe hand-washing, hygiene and two-metre social distancing guidance,” said a BEF spokesman.

    “You can continue to travel to provide care and exercise for your horse, as this would be deemed as essential travel. However, if you are not the primary carer of the horse and have to travel into or out of the localised lockdown zone surrounding Leicester – i.e. cross the boundary – we would encourage you not to do so at this time.”

    The spokesman added that riders may may exercise their horses outdoors, with up to five other people, provided “strict social distancing is followed”.

    “We are advising that you should not travel your horse during this time unless essential, such as for a welfare reason (vet, farrier),” he said.

    “Equine professionals (vets, farriers, coaches) are permitted to travel in and out of the zone because this is travel associated with their businesses. However, they should strictly observe hand-washing, hygiene and two-metre social distancing guidance.

    “Any equestrian facilities (competition venues, facility hire, riding schools) within this zone should consult with their local authority, but the current indication is that facilities are not required to close for the time being.

    “Those living outside the lockdown zone should not travel into the zone to participate in any activity, except on animal welfare grounds.”

    Riders are also urged to keep an eye on local news and the Leicestershire County Council website for updates, and use the postcode checker to clarify whether they are affected.

    Oonagh Meyer, the British Horse Society’s (BHS) head of approved centres, told H&H on Wednesday (1 July) that riding schools should check with the local authority.

    “The council has published a map and we are waiting to confirm specific postcodes that will be affected,” she said.

    “Currently, this doesn’t affect any of our BHS approved centres in Leicestershire, but we have two that are very close to the map the council has provided so far, meaning that when the list of postcodes is published they may fall into the area.

    “At this stage, it appears that Leicester city is affected, rather than outlying rural areas.”

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    The government five-mile travel restriction in Scotland has been lifted today (3 July) in a majority of areas, with the exception of some postcodes in the Dumfries and Galloway region.

    In essence, this means people living in most of Scotland can now travel further for activities, while numbers and social distancing requirements remain unchanged.

    “This means that a coach or personal trainer should not deliver training to more than two households at any one time, and to more than eight people in total at a time. They can only instruct a maximum of two households per day,” added the BEF spokesman.

    “The next review is expected on the 9 July, when numbers who can meet may be increased.”

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