Advice to Hunts during Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak - updated 31st July 2020

The Hunting Office’ priority is to continue to provide support and advice for hunts and their members during this ever evolving Covid-19 crisis, especially with updates on Government guidance and schemes. We will continue to provide the necessary administrative service, care and support for all hunts, hunt staff and hunt officials.

The Hunting Office is monitoring the Government advice and will update guidance to hunts as applicable or if any changes occur that affect the running of Hunts, Hunt Kennels or Hunt Stables. 

The Hunting Office urges all Hunts, their Members and Staff, to continue to follow the Governments Guidance and Restrictions regarding Coronavirus (especially with respect to Washing Hands, Social Distancing and Self-Isolation).

Hound and Horse welfare is of critical importance, and we therefore advise that those required in the day to day care of the Hounds and Horses should prioritise work as necessary so standards of care are maintained, whilst still following the Government advice on social distancing, self-isolation and regularly washing hands.  

Update of Restrictions and the start of Autumn Hunting (Full Guidance can be found in the Health and Safety Section of the Members Area)

Over the past few weeks, the Hunting Office has had extensive discussions around the resumption of hunting activities.  The Hunting Office has researched and prepared plans for the safe and responsible resumption of hunting activities.  A full paper, considering the conduct, assessing the risks, and advising on mitigation strategies has been issued to all hunts.  Although hunting activities do not fall under the umbrella of competitive Team Sports, and therefore do not require Government approval to commence activities, the paper adheres to the key principles and framework set out in the Government action plans for returning to sport. 

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.     

Numbers in attendance will be stipulated by the current Government guidance on numbers meeting outside, however we remain confident that due to the very nature of hunting activities (their occurrence outdoors in rural open spaces and the continuous movement of followers across an open piece of country) the risks are significantly low even with larger numbers of participants. 

The Hunting Office advice has considered all aspects of the hunting activities - it advises on the mitigations which should be implemented.  The paper considers the practicalities associated with hunting, the number of people out and the limitations that should be employed.  It 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. 

It is essential that Masters and Hunt Officials show leadership to their followers and ensure that they only start activities if they can do so safely, in a sociably responsible manner, and can adhere to the Government guidance and the protocols set out by the Hunting Office.

Resuming some Restricted Hunt Activities (Full Guidance can be found in the Health and Safety Section of the Members Area)

In addition to the guidance allowing up to 6 people from different households to meets outdoors, the Government are now allowing members of 2 different households to meet (indoors and outdoors) providing social distancing is in place.

Hunts should start to consider what activities they can feasibly organise should they wish. Initial activities should only be outdoors and be carried out in such a way that does not allow the congregation of people in a restricted space for any period of time.

To be clear, activities must be in wholly separate groups of no more than 6 people. This may mean that measures need to be put in place such as limiting attendance, staggering arrival times, staggering start times and requiring swift departure.

Organisers should be very clear about the expectations of attendees at hunt activities. The Hunt must show respect and sensitivity towards the local community and ensure that every practicable protocol is followed to avoid the possible transmission of Covid-19.

Hunts must assert the necessary authority to ensure that all those in attendance respect and adhere to the regulations and guidelines. There must be very clear instructions for all those in attendance to follow, this should be done by way of clear signage at the premises as well as clear instructions and procedures communicated beforehand.

The Government have also stated “Clubs or groups can begin to meet again in COVID-19 secure venues.............Venues should ensure they comply with COVID-19 secure guidelines.”  Hunts are therefore able to meet for small group events (such as viewing hounds) as long as the Covid-19 Secure Guidance is adhered to.  

Updated: 31st July 2020