Coronavirus / COVID-19 guidance

 BEF update: Activity in England post-lockdown

26 November 2020

The government announced details of the revised three tier alert system for England earlier today and which areas would fall into each tier. The positive news is that equestrian activity can largely continue, within number and setting restrictions based on the area’s tier level. Current lockdown restrictions remain in place until 00.01 on Wednesday 2 December and should be followed until then.

Download: Tier system in England post-lockdown  PDF

24 November 2020

Within the revised guidance below, there are a couple of updates from the Scottish Government this week, particularly around Level 4 areas:

1. Participants can now travel around 5 miles from a Level 4 Local Authority boundary to undertake outdoor non-contact sport and exercise for adults and under 18's. Please note this is from your home Local Authority area, not from where you horse is kept (if it is in a different Local Authority area).

2. Locker rooms, tack rooms, toilets and other necessary ancillary areas can be open with the appropriate hygiene and physical distancing risk assessments and mitigating measures in place.

Additionally, we have added to the guidance, a Local Authority contact list compiled by Scottish Government in association with BHS Scotland. This is a very useful document and should be used to obtain specific advice from your Local Authority EHO/Covid Officer.

Download: COVID-19 Phase Three guidelines  PDF

Coronavirus - National Restrictions in England
13 November 2020

BEF update: DEFRA clarification

We received an update late on Thursday from Defra and DCMS via the British Horse Council and British Horse Society following our combined request for clarification on the recent legislation concerning the National Restrictions now in force across England and how they impact on the training in the equestrian community.

Download: BEF update - DEFRA clarification  PDF

10 November 2020

Today saw the first review announcement from the First Minister of the Local Authority levels of the Strategic Framework that's now in place, this sees Fife, Perth & Kinross and Angus move to Level 3. Please see the attached document for the full report. All equestrian activity now taking place in any of these Local Authority areas should refer to our approved Equestrian Guidance for implications that the move from Level 2 to Level 3 will have. The changes take effect from 6am on Friday 13th November.

Download: Allocation of levels to local authorities  PDF

We also attach an info graphic for reference

Download: Horsescotland guidance info graphic  PDF

The Scottish Government also announced its Business Strategic Framework. To check if you are eligible for business support if your business is restricted or closed due to the level it's placed within, please check here:

Lockdown in England
Joint statement: British Equestrian and British Horse Society
09 November 2020

We understand how frustrating and conflicting some of the advice has been regarding the legislation for the current lockdown in England. Please be assured that the British Horse Society and British Equestrian (on behalf of their Member Bodies) are continuing to work on gaining further clarity regarding and what this means for our equestrian stakeholders.

Late on Friday afternoon Sport England relayed the information which had been provided by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) regarding the opening and use of equestrian facilities. However, over the weekend, we have raised concerns regarding the implication on horse welfare should riding schools be required to closed. We have asked Defra, via the British Horse Council, to clarify with DCMS, that riding schools should remain open to maintain horse welfare which includes care and exercise of all horses, and that this exercise may need to be supervised.

The areas which we are seeking clarity on:

  • The continuation of supervised ridden exercise of horses in a riding school setting where such exercise provides the level of care prescribed by animal welfare legislation
  • Exercise, ridden or otherwise, should only be undertaken in a safe location - which is often only available on the private property where the horse or pony is kept

Currently, providing COVID-19 protocols and social distancing are maintained, we know that:

  • Horses may be ridden for exercise, including travelling to exercise
  • You can travel to care and exercise a horse which you own or care for
  • Coaches can continue to travel to work where they can’t work from home
  • Livery yards can remain open for horse owners, loaners and sharers to care for and exercise their horse
  • Riding centres and schools may remain open and deliver formal education and training under the requirements of the legislation, and clients are permitted to travel to take part
  • Farriery, veterinary, dentistry, physiotherapy and other equine practitioners can continue to operate

It has been confirmed that you cannot:

  • Travel to a venue and pay to ride on the premises e.g. farm rides, arenas, cross country courses, gallops etc. All venue hire should be suspended for the period of the lockdown

All advice and guidance is subject to change as and when government issues further details. This advice will be updated when further details are issued.

Whilst this is the BEF and the BHS interpretation and advice we strongly recommend that you consult with both your insurance provider and local authority to help make the right decisions for your businesses and circumstances.

Earlier information

BEF Covid-19 update
Issued: 5 November 2020; amended: 6 November 2020

England lockdown, travel in Scotland and post-firebreak advice in Wales

Go to the BEF website

Covid-19 guidelines
Issued: 20 October 2020


SPORT ENGLAND have now updated their FAQ’s page in line with the new government guidance.



On 7th October 2020, the First Minister made a statement to Scottish Parliament to set-out a tightening of coronavirus-related restrictions, especially in five NHS areas in response to an increase in the rate of spread of the virus.

The primary measures impacting on sport are regional in their reach, covering the following NHS Health Boards and local authorities;

NHS Ayrshire & Arran (North, South and East Ayrshire local authority areas),
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (Glasgow, East and West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, and Inverclyde local authority areas),
NHS Lanarkshire (North and South Lanarkshire local authority areas),
NHS Forth Valley (Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Falkirk local authority areas) and
NHS Lothian (Edinburgh, East, West and Mid-Lothian local authority areas).

Download the full document here (PDF))

Following the First Minister’s statement that from Monday 19th October face coverings must be worn in all communal areas in indoor workplaces, where people mingle or gather (except where exemptions apply such as where measures are in place to keep persons separated), please read the following information.

Face coverings must be worn in all communal areas in indoor workplaces, where people mingle or gather (except where exemptions apply, such as where measures are in place to keep persons separated).

Please find below more details on how this will apply for agriculture, horticulture and rural businesses across Scotland.

This rule only applies indoors, such as communal areas in workplaces that are substantially or fully enclosed, i.e. if the walls and sides create an area that is more than 50% fully enclosed. People responsible for relevant premises should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law, so if you are an owner of the business or employer, you should consider if any of your buildings constitute an indoor environment, and assist users of that space to be aware of their obligation to wear a face covering there, unless an exemption applies. Exemptions include where measures have been taken to ensure the legally required separation in that area of the workplace, or when a person is undertaking tasks in the course of their employment where the wearing of a face covering would cause a material risk of harm, such as handling large unpredictable livestock. Please find a link to the published regulations for further information:

Face coverings must be worn in staff canteens, except when seated at a table or eating and drinking.

The use of face coverings should already be part of COVID-19 contingency planning measures being undertaken by agricultural, horticulture and rural businesses across Scotland.


Please be advised that the First Minister has advised that the Welsh Government intends to amend the regulations to allow children to travel outside of local lockdown areas to participate in organised sport. Details on when the change to the regulations will come into effect have not yet been confirmed, but this is likely to be effective from Monday next week.

Once the amendment comes into effect, children in Wales will be able to leave their home county, even if it is subject to local lockdown rules, to participate in organised sport. Those living in areas not subject to lockdown restrictions would also be permitted to enter locked down areas to play sport.

BBC News report

All other local lockdown restrictions in Wales remain in place.

British Equestrian Update:
New legal restrictions for England

Issued: 10 September 2020

The government has recently announced new restrictions in England which limit gatherings to a maximum of six people, enforceable by law, which come into effect on Monday 14 September.

While this has implications for day-to-day life, British Equestrian has had confirmation via Sport England that equestrian sport and activity taking place in organised conditions under each governing body’s published ‘return to play’ protocols and related guidance, can continue without observing the new restricted numbers.

Riders, drivers and vaulters meeting for informal equestrian activities such as hacking must legally abide by the restriction of six people or fewer as of Monday 14 September in England.

Also coming into law is the requirement for businesses to record customer, staff and visitor contact details to support the NHS Test and Trace programme. Most equestrian centres, venues and operatives should have instigated this within their ‘return to play’ plans, but those who haven’t been must now put a recording program in place in order to comply with the law. Data should be held for 21 days, then safely destroyed, and should be handled in accordance with GDPR.

Currently, there are no changes to numbers who can gather in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales from those previously published.

British Equestrian’s Head of Participation David Butler commented; “We’ve worked closely with our member bodies to get them prepared for returning to action safely, and most are back up and running under COVID protocols. Having stringent plans in place was vital, but even more so with these new restrictions being made law because our plans mean that activity can safely continue. I’d urge all equestrian businesses, particularly in England at present, to be extra vigilant and rigorously ensure the guidance is strictly adhered to, as well as health and hygiene measures. It's easy to become complacent, but this change reminds us that coronavirus is still very much with us and we must all play our part in complying with the guidance to minimise the COVID risk when taking part in equestrian activity.”

Helpful links:

Please visit our member bodies’ websites for their COVID plans and guidance.