Hunting prepares for autumn with new Covid-19 protocols *H&H Plus*

  • The Hunting Office has issued guidelines on conduct, risk assessment and mitigation strategies to all hunts and is calling for everyone to comply with the protocols that will allow hunting activities to get under way. H&H finds out how autumn hunting will be different this season...

    As hunts start their autumn hunting activities across the country, the Hunting Office has issued guidelines to aid “safe and responsible operation”.

    Hunting activities for larger groups will be organised in accordance with the government’s Covid-19 secure guidance, and will include the completion of a risk assessment. Personnel from hunts arranging activities for larger groups have attended a Covid compliance webinar run by the Hunting Office, and will also complete an daily event delivery plan.

    The Hunting Office reiterates the requirement for authority and leadership and the need for hunt officials to enforce the protocols and keep records to support the government track and trace system.

    Hunting Office director Alice Bowden said: “The Hunting Office has had extensive discussions around the resumption of hunting activities and has researched and prepared plans for the safe and responsible operations of hunting activities.

    “Full papers, considering the conduct, assessing the risks, and advising on mitigation strategies have been issued to all hunts over the past few weeks. The activities within the hunting community are at a significantly lower risk due to the nature of the activities themselves and the locations at which they take place — outdoors and in rural locations where the incidence of Covid-19 is lower.

    “Due to the nature of riding horses in groups, those members who are mounted have historically always been aware and respectful of keeping a safe distance from other horses and riders, and therefore do so inherently.”

    Anyone wishing to attend an activity organised by a hunt, such as autumn hunting or hound exercise, should book in before the day, whether they plan to follow on a horse, on foot or in a car so that numbers can be monitored and details of all those out can be recorded for NHS track and trace purposes.

    Social distancing guidelines must be adhered to at all times, and hunts are urged to keep reminding their followers of this; hunts will nominate a Covid compliance officer, who will be in place to assist on the day.

    Hunts have been reminded to remain vigilant about local lockdown restrictions, and must not allow people to come hunting who are travelling from any local lockdown areas. There should be no meets (clarified as prolonged gathering of the field), and activities should avoid open spaces that are crowded or busy with tourists and holidaymakers.

    Guidance templates have been issued so hunts can clearly communicate to their followers (both mounted and on foot) what is expected of them when attending hunting activities.

    Countryside Alliance director of hunting Polly Portwin said: “We are confident that hunts and their supporters can safely participate in hunting activities while complying with the government guidance and using their common sense. The format of our hunting days may be slightly different to usual this season but these adjustments are a small price to pay if they enable hunting activities to commence while still ensuring everybody’s safety.”

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