The guidelines brought in on the 14th September can and are changing daily, so a one size fits all advice policy is not possible, therefore you must keep up to speed with what is happening in your locality, the NGO’s website will give you the latest national information, but for local lockdown it is also best that you seek advice from the local government guidelines for your area.
In Wales under local lockdown situations Beaters and Pickers up can still attend shoot days as they fall into the employed / workers category. The problem comes with the guns, you are not allowed to travel into a lockdown area to shoot and you are not allowed to travel out of a Lockdown area to shoot, but you can still shoot if you live and the shoot is in the lockdown area. The wording is different in England and you can legally travel to participate in a sport/ recreational activity.
So how can shoots in England carry on and keep within the law? I hear you ask, well basically.
- You will need to do a full COVID19 risk assessment.
- Develop Cleaning, hand washing and hygiene procedures throughout the day.
- Work out how you can all maintain 2m social distancing for all throughout the day
- Where people cannot be 2m apart, how are you going to manage the transmission risk?
- Anyone showing symptoms of or sharing a house with any individual displaying symptoms must not attend the shoot day.
It is important to think on how your shoot works and break each part down into different operations, each time thinking on how you can keep people safe throughout the execution of each part.
Each shoot should undertake their own Risk Assessment, ensuring that adequate measures are in place to protect all participants on the day. You must consider any government or local regulations and guidance that are in force when the shoot is taking place.
Think about the day from start to finish. How are you going to manage the arrival of the beaters and guns, how you are they going to maintain social distancing and hygiene throughout the day? Some estates are taking attendees temperatures with an infra-red thermometer gun, though you must be aware that Covid is a sneaky opponent and sometimes does not manifest with a temperature. This however is another check point on to your risk assessment to show you have tried your best to detect symptoms and minimise the risk to others.
Think about how are you going to manage shared equipment like radios, flags etc… these should always be cleaned before and at the end of each day and also at any point where they will be used or handled by another. One of the first points of contamination for the guns will be the drawing a peg number, many shoots are opting for the gun to point at the peg marker he chooses and the shoot captain draws it out for him. It is usually the simplest responses are the most effective.
Splitting your beaters into bubbles of 6, all socially distanced may help in reducing the risk to all. Another benefit of this is if you do get a contact and you have kept everyone in bubbles then only that bubble will need to quarantine, as long as they have had no contact with anyone else outside that bibble.
The safest option for moving around the estate is on foot, where social distancing can be easily maintained. Unfortunately for some this is not a possibility. In these cases, it may be necessary to make more journeys or to use more vehicles. When using vehicles hand sanitiser and masks should be always be used, vehicles must also be thoroughly cleaned before and after use.
One very important thing to remember is that meals on a shoot do not fall into the exemption, with this in mind changes should be made to adhere to guidelines. Some shoots are telling attendees to bring their own packed lunch whilst others are getting individual food parcels made up, either way you must remember that food and buffet style eating is a huge risk. Wild and Game are producing some excellent Isolation packs that are very reasonable and will tick the box at elevenses.
The main thing to remember through all of this is that adhering to the main guidance from the government throughout the day is an absolute must. Failure by just one shoot to comply with the rules could spell disaster for us all. There are more and more people out there that are desperate to get photographs of non-compliance, so every effort should be made by all who are participating to act sensibly and withing the guides lines.
With careful common sense changes to what was the norm, we should all be able to enjoy our days out in the countryside, making for a memorable season for all of the right reasons.
Stay safe and consult the the NGO website for the latest national guidance.