Plans to ease lockdown restrictions in England and Scotland
23 Feb 2021

Plans to ease lockdown restrictions announced in England and Scotland.

The UK Prime Minister and Scotland’s First Minister have outlined their plans for the taking England and Scotland out of the current ‘stay at home’ restriction. Both leaders have given indicative timeframes, which give the equestrian sector a guide for when activity can resume, businesses can open and competitions can recommence.

In Wales, lockdown restrictions continue with the next review due on 12 March, while a lockdown extension until 1 April was recently announced in Northern Ireland, with a review scheduled for 18 March.

While certain details around the easing of restrictions and how they affect the equestrian industry are still awaiting for clarification, below is British Equestrian’s current understanding of the situation.


The key dates and headlines are:

Step One – part A: from 8 March

• Two people can meet outdoors to socialise
• All schools return

Step One – part B: from 29 March

• Six people or two households can meet outdoors
• Outdoor sports facilities to open and organised sport allowed
• Travel outside local area allowed

Step Two: from 12 April

• Non-essential retail can open
• Outdoor hospitality is permitted
• Self-contained accommodation hire permitted

Step Three: from 17 May

• Many social contact restrictions lifted outdoors
• Six people or two households can meet indoors
• Indoor hospitality and hotels open

Step Four: from 21 June

• All legal limits on social contact removed

This would indicate that those equestrian centres and other businesses who are education or training providers could start one-to-one sessions from 8 March, while most other activity – sport or leisure – can resume from 29 March.

Our member bodies are working on various ‘return to play’ plans for release in the coming days with specific details for their sectors and stakeholder groups.

England – full ‘roadmap’ (click here)


Indicative dates and key milestones:

Phase One: 22 February

• Partial return to school for some age groups

Phase Two: 15 March (anticipated)

• Next phase of return of children to school - primary and some secondary pupils
• Non-contact outdoor sports to return for 12-17 year olds
• Four people from two households allowed to mix outdoors

Phase Three: 5 April (anticipated)

• Stay at home restriction removed
• All children return to school
• Communal worship can restart with restricted numbers of 20
• Six people from two households can meet together
• Easing restrictions on indoor household gatherings
• Further essential retail can begin to re-open

Phase Four: 26 April (anticipated)

• All of Scotland return to Level system of restrictions
• Phased return of non-essential retail
• Some hospitality, leisure venues and gyms can re-open

Scotland – strategic update (click here)

These details have only just been released and now require further consideration on how they impact the equine industry, but this could signal a restart to activity no later than 26 April. We’ll work with horsescotland and the member bodies, and provide any further clarification if required in the coming days.

CEO comment

British Equestrian CEO Iain Graham commented; “While there is still detail to be clarified, we now have a strong indication from the governments of England and Scotland of when we can return to activity, training, competing and just enjoying our equestrian lives once again.

It’s very welcome news and gives hope to many that an end is in sight, provided of course we all play our part. For our stakeholders in Wales and Northern Ireland, we’ll continue to push for the opening up of activity in a safe timeframe.

Thank you to all of you in the equestrian community, it’s been a difficult 11 months with so many impacted, but now we can look to building our industry back and recover stronger than ever.” We’ll continue to provide updates and further details for the equestrian sector as they are made available to us from governments or supporting bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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In the First Minister's statement on 23 February she highlighted the following. At this stage this is all the information we have available. As soon as we have more detail especially from Mid-March around the return to the level system we will update you all.

The statement set out indicative dates to return to a system of levels from the last week of April. The key points, relevant to sport are:

15 March

  • Education: Return of P4-7 pupils to schools full-time. More but not all secondary pupils returning to school at least part-time. (Full details to be confirmed next week)
  • Sport: Non-contact outdoor group sport permitted for 12 to 17 year olds (this is already permitted for under 12s).
  • Gatherings: Outdoor meetings of 4 people from 2 households permitted.

5 April

  • Stay at home: Stay at home requirement removed.
  • Education: Return to full-time in person education for all remaining school pupils.
  • Gatherings: Outdoor meetings of 6 people from 2 households permitted.
  • Economy: More retail businesses being classified as essential. Click-and-collect permitted for non-essential retail.

26 April

  • Strategic (Levels) Framework: Return to a levels system, which includes regional variation based on data. Further detail will be published in mid-March.
  • Level 3: Initially the intention is that mainland Scotland will move to level 3. The islands currently at level 3 may drop to level 2, based on data.
  • Sport: The levels system will support the phased re-opening of sport. The detail of what activity will be permitted in each level will be confirmed in mid-March.

It is important to note that the timings are indicative and any changes will be driven by the data.

It should also be noted that the dates set-out by UK Government on 22nd February do not apply to Scotland.