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Green light for more equestrian activities, plus support for businesses revealed

Restrictions affecting equestrian activities in Scotland and Wales have been eased while support applicable to equine businesses in England has also been announced.

Riders, vaulters and drivers in Scotland can now meet in larger groups, provided 2m social distancing is still adhered to.

As of 10 July, groups of up to four households, to a maximum of 15 people, can meet outside. Up to two households with a maximum of eight people can meet indoors. This limit does not apply to under-18s, and children under the age of 11 no longer need to socially distance indoors. People aged 12–17 must continue to socially distance.

“In Scotland, it’s permissible to ride/drive in covered arenas, but the rules/numbers for indoor activity apply,” said a British Equestrian (BEF) spokesman.

“The restriction in numbers makes a return to competitive activity difficult, and horsescotland will continue to work closely with sportscotland on this front.

“Competition plans already approved for England are being modified to make any changes required for Scotland, in the hope that shows can return soon.

“In addition, horsescotland is seeking clarification from sportscotland about whether equestrian coaches can hold sessions with a greater number of participants, both per session and per day, if those they are coaching are under the age of 18 years.”

In Wales, relaxation of gathering numbers and a green light for competitions to resume with restricted numbers were given the go-ahead from today (Monday, 13 July).

“Riders/drivers can participate in gatherings up to 30 where activity is supervised, in an outdoor setting only,” said the BEF spokesman.

“Coaches may instruct individuals or groups of up to 30 people, outdoors only. There is no limit on the number of sessions per day, and coaches may travel to clients or vice versa.

“Outdoor training facilities may open for people to travel to for the purposes of hire or tuition. Organised outdoor gathering numbers must be limited to 30 people at time.”

In England, the government has announced indoor sporting activities may open from 25 July.

While the use of indoor arenas has been allowed in England since 4 July, this update means activities such as use of mechanical horses and other gym equipment for unmounted activities can go ahead from later this month.

“The government has also announced that team sports may resume once plans have been approved by DCMS,” said the BEF spokesman.

“We will work with our relevant member bodies, including Pony Club, British Equestrian Vaulting, Mounted Games Association of Great Britain, British Horseball Association and UK Polocrosse Association, to provide plans to DCMS spell out for government approval.”

He also encouraged riders to be mindful to ensure they comply with guidance when taking part in unaffiliated activities, including shows, training clinics and camps.

“At British Equestrian, we have supported our member bodies in their efforts to develop their own guidance around the current government regulations and advice that works for their sport,” he said.

“However, we have no link or responsibility for shows or camps that run outside our member bodies (i.e. those that are not run by an affiliated discipline, Pony Club, British Riding Clubs or Riding for the Disabled Association).

“‘Unaffiliated’ shows or camps run outside our member bodies may take place in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (the latter from 13 July only and with restricted numbers), provided they adhere to government guidance, health and safety legislation and the requirements of their insurance company. It is therefore possible these shows may run in a slightly different way to that set out by our member bodies, but still meet these necessary requirements.

“We would recommend you do not attend shows that you consider to be in breach any of these requirements because not following the guidance outlined above, risks the organisers’ insurance being forfeited, or the event being cancelled at late notice or closed down by the police.

“By attending shows run by our member bodies, you can be guaranteed that are all done in a way that adheres to the current regulations and guidance.”

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Support for businesses

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement on 8 July included several initiatives which could benefit equestrian businesses.

These include:

  • Employers who took advantage of the furlough scheme could benefit from a job retention bonus of £1,000 if they retain previously furloughed staff until the end of January 2021, provided the workers earn more than £520 per month.
  • Employers are being financially encouraged to take on apprentices/trainees and to create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds, with bonuses of between £1,000 and £2,000.
  • A new “kickstart” scheme that helps to fund work placements for 16 to 24 year olds on universal credit.
  • Equestrian venues with an on-site café, restaurant or bar (eat in and/or take away) may be able to take advantage of a six-month cut in VAT from 20% to 5%. The new “eat out to help out” scheme, which offers a government subsidised 50% discount for each diner, up to £10 per head, from Monday to Wednesday throughout August, could also be implemented.

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