New quarantine rules: how riders returning from major events will be affected

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  • Eventers competing at one of the first European international horse trials post-lockdown have a change of rules to comply with on their return after France was removed from the UK’s list of quarantine-exempt countries.

    There are a number of British and top-level British-based international event riders competing at Haras du Pin in Normandy this week (13 to 16 August), which has CCI2*-S , CCI2*-L, CCI3*-S and CCI3*-L classes, and the CCIO4* Nations Cup.

    There are also two international showjumping shows happening in France this week, at Deauville and Arnas Champburcy, involving British riders, who must also content with the change in rules on their return.

    At around 10pm Thursday (13 August) — the evening after the first day of competition at the international eventing and showjumping fixtures in France this week — the UK foreign office advised against all but essential travel to France, Malta and the Netherlands. They join Spain, Belgium and other countries recently removed from the list of countries from which people can travel to the UK without needing to self-isolate for two weeks on their return.

    Transport secretary Grant Shapps said this means those returning to the UK from those countries, or any others not listed on the exemption list, after 4am tomorrow (15 August) will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

    A list of those exempt from quarantine restrictions is available on the government website.

    There is also guidance, updated on 17 July, on exemptions for elite athletes and their support personnel, but this still comes with criteria and restrictions.

    British Eventing (BE) has said there are quarantine exemptions for “elite” athletes, but it is up to riders to ascertain whether they fulfil the criteria.

    “In line with British Equestrian’s [BEF] position, any exemption will only currently be given where an athlete has travelled to a country on the UK Government’s exempt list to compete which becomes non-exempt during the period of competition,” added the BE statement.

    H&H has asked the BEF for further details.

    A BE spokesman told H&H that those on the Nations Cup side will be eligible to apply for exemption as elite athletes.

    This also raises questions over whether exemptions will be agreed for athletes currently abroad who are hoping to compete at Burgham, England’s first post-lockdown international horse trials, next week, which boasts bumper entries.

    The Government guidance means there is no single blanket, clear-cut rule covering all sports, all riders or all events.

    Deauville, in Normandy, is hosting a major racing fixture this weekend (15-16 August), with jockeys Frankie Dettori and Hayley Turner among the British-based contingent.

    A British Horseracing Authority (BHA) spokesman said those returning from France to the UK after Saturday’s cut-off will be required to self-isolate, or to undergo testing for coronavirus.

    “As such, any jockey, trainer or member of stable staff wishing to participate in a French fixture after this date will either have to self-isolate for 14 days on return, or elect to use the elite athlete exemption which requires undergoing two Covid-19 tests upon return to the UK,” he said, adding the first test should be taken as soon as possible, and the second seven days on from their return to the UK.

    “Both test results will have to be negative and the participant would also have to satisfy any other requirements that the BHA’s medical department may impose as part of a risk assessment process, such as being interviewed and providing details of accommodation and other movements whilst overseas.”

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    He added: “The BHA reserves the right to prevent the participant from returning to a race fixture in Great Britain until the full 14 day self-isolation period is up should there be any concerns regarding potential transmission of the virus.

    “The BHA has been assisting participants this week who have been considering riding in France in the near future, and will be publishing a full protocol for all participants considering travelling to countries without a travel corridor as soon as possible to assist in their planning.”

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