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Tighter restrictions for 11 areas of Scotland make competitions unviable

Further coronavirus restrictions have been announced in Scotland as more local authorities are placed in the highest protection levels.

The First Minister announced yesterday (17 November) that 11 local authorities would move into level four, the toughest restriction, from 6pm on 20 November to 11 December. The areas affected are: the City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian. East Lothian and Midlothian will move from level three to level two.

Under the level four guidance those in the affected areas must not drive outside their own local authority for exercise. Those in level three are permitted to travel five miles outside their local authority to take part in equestrian activity.

Horsescotland chairman Grant Turnbull told H&H he believed there was a “certain inevitably” about tougher restrictions being announced yesterday.

“In general we’ve found people have been fairly accepting of the fact that they’re in a different level now, but there are a number of local authority areas that haven’t changed and a small number that have gone down so that is helpful,” he said.

“The main impact of the restrictions from our point of view is on the venues again. They’re unlikely to be able to run viable competitions with the restricted geography of where competitors come from.”

Mr Turnbull said venues in level four may still run outdoor competitions and training for riders within level four local authorities only, and those with indoor arenas that meet the BHS Scotland “covered arena” protocols can also still operate. Indoor facilities such as cafes, toilets and changing rooms must close.

“There is more of an understanding now from the equestrian sector that they’re not being singled out and dealt a heavy blow, this is something affecting all businesses,” he said.

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“The frustration is that this is going to rumble on, things might open up at Christmas time and then we could potentially be locked down in January again.”

Mr Turnbull added equestrian sport in Scotland was in a “privileged position” owing to the fact competitions may currently still continue under each level’s guidance.

“We continue to be in a strong position because as it stands at the moment, except for level four, the restriction on competition and training is minimal in comparison to what’s being experienced in England,” he said.

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