Following confusion on social media, Horse & Hound has checked the rules on the use of indoor schools under the current Covid-19 lockdown restrictions as sporting bodies are urged to ensure everyone complies with the government’s current guidance....
Riders and equestrian centres are being urged to be aware they may not use indoor arenas under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, despite some confusion.
Restrictions in England have relaxed, allowing sporting activities to resume outdoors, but the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and British Equestrian (BEF) have confirmed that indoor arenas do not fall into this category.
An indoor arena is defined by the BEF as having a roof with sides or walls of any construction. An outdoor arena with a roof is permissible.
The DCMS guidance states that outdoor sports courts and other outdoor sporting activities have been permitted to reopen if they follow Covid-19 security guidelines. Indoor facilities should be kept closed, apart from toilets and throughways.
A spokesman for the DCMS told H&H “nothing” can take place inside, adding it is “inherent” on sports bodies that they work within the guidance and take responsibility for the health and safety of their members and coaches.
The guidance adds police and local authorities have the power to enforce the requirements set out in law if people do not comply, and can instruct people to leave an area – or issue a fixed penalty or arrest, if they believe it necessary.
A BEF spokesman told H&H the federation had confirmation from the DCMS that people cannot practise sports in an indoor facility and the government guidance “must be followed by everyone”.
“This is consistent with the position we’ve had reiterated by UK Sport, Sport England and the Sport & Recreation Alliance,” she said. “While we understand this may be frustrating for many, the government’s phased approach of coming out of lockdown is there with good reason and we would ask for patience.
“We all must play a role in controlling the spread of the virus and keeping the R-number [which measures the virus’s spread] low.”
Some have stated that local authorities are allowing use of indoor facilities, but a spokesman for Ashford Borough Council in Kent told H&H that running a business or service providing an indoor riding area would be caught under the “other indoor leisure facility” and would be comparable to indoor sports courts, which should also not be operating.
“Outdoor arenas would, however, be able to operate in line with current social distancing guidance,” he said.
At the time of publication (2 June), government guidance allows for a group of up to six people from different households to meet outdoors in England while adhering to social distancing.
In Scotland, people may meet up to eight people, from one other household, per day, but coaches should not deliver training to more than one household per day.
In Wales, people from one household can meet outdoors with people from one other household at a time. In Northern Ireland, people may meet in groups of up to six outdoors.
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