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OUTDATED: COVID-19 UPDATE FOR SACS MEMBERS – 13 MAY 2020

Public health matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are devolved and thus each operates their own Covid-19 restrictions and guidelines. Due to variables like population density, demographics etc, the rate of transmission varies across the UK and national responses necessarily vary.

OUTDATED: COVID-19 UPDATE FOR SACS MEMBERS – 13 MAY 2020

This week there is no material change to the restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland other than an easing in the number of times you can go outside to exercise.

For England only, the UK Government has published revised Covid-19 guidelines which allow for a small easing of restrictions from today, Wed 13th May 2020.

Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to understand and follow Covid-19 related laws, restrictions and guidelines in whichever area of the UK you reside.

PEST CONTROL, GAME MANAGEMENT AND COVID-19

SACS was clear from the initial lockdown that essential pest control – bird and mammal - should be able to continue to limit property or other damage and increase food productivity. We drafted a generic letter for essential pest control helpers and helped many members with queries.

The important principle was and remains that the landowner, farmer or manager should ideally provide a letter supporting essential worker activity, which may help to justify limited and necessary travel as well as the control activity itself. On the whole, the police have been pragmatic in their response to these essential activities and we thank them for that approach.

On the basis that Governments accepted that not everyone could work from home, SACS was also clear that animal husbandry activities, especially with a legal welfare consideration, should continue, whether farming or game management related. That remains the case.

Deer management specific guidance

Our valued friends at the British Deer Society (BDS) have published a helpful summary of the current position for deer managers, which can be found HERE. As a deer science and advisory charity, please consider supporting them and their work for deer education and research.

General best practice points

  • If you shoot or fish on someone else’s land, remember to check with them that they are comfortable with you being there. Many households and farms have vulnerable persons and many are single handed operations. If farmers fall ill who will they turn to for help? Many farmers and land managers have requested no non-essential visits. Please, for everyones sake, ask before going onto the land.
  • Please follow Government guidance local to you and your own common-sense instincts.
  • As certificate holders we all need to be extra careful. Given minimal service at many firearms licensing departments, this is not a time to push boundaries and have guns removed. Even if the allegation or concern is unfounded, it may be a considerable length of time before you get your guns back.
  • Please bear in mind that some police forces are interpreting the guidance in different ways – some are being stricter than others. Again, this is not a time to test the law or country sports community and police relations – follow the guidance, be mindful of local laws, apply common sense and act reasonably and responsibly at all times. In some areas, if you are going shooting, it may be good practice to phone the local police and tell them who you are, where you will be shooting etc., which may save unnecessary hassle later.

ENGLAND UPDATE

UK Government has this week published its COVID-19 Recovery Strategy for ENGLAND. The full document can be downloaded and read HERE.

Members in England should pay particular attention to:

- Page 27 Public Spaces

- Annex A: Staying safe outside your home

General UK Government guidance and information can be found HERE

In the limited easing of restrictions in England, it is expected, but not yet confirmed that as well as deer management and pest control (most of which may have been allowable in any case – landowners and managers being willing), other legally permitted quarry shooting activities may be able to continue. The guidance mentions angling, which is really helpful, and we can see no reason why recreational shooting should be an issue – it is statistically very safe and can be conducted with appropriate distancing. We will update as we know more.

Whilst there are now no travelling distance restrictions in England, we would firmly advise only local travel where possible. It is permitted to meet one person from outwith your household as long as you both follow the existing social distancing guidelines i.e. 2 metres. Please continue to follow other Government guidance for England as linked above. Do not share hides, high seats or other equipment with anyone from outwith your household.

If you have shooting or other country sports leases or permissions in Scotland, Wales or NI, then bear in mind that the current restrictions easing is in England only. Don’t travel from England into Scotland, or Wales and expect the rules to be the same. They simply, at this time, aren’t.

OTHER UK NATIONS

The legal and guidance position for other nations is available from the links below:

SCOTLAND

Scottish Government main Covid-19 page

Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance

The principle guidance in Scotland continues to be to stay at home.

WALES

Welsh Government main Covid-19 page

Welsh Government Covid-19 guidance

The principle guidance in Wales continues to be to stay at home.

NORTHERN IRELAND

NI Government main Covid-19 page

NI Government Covid-19 guidance

NI Government Covid-19 regulations

The principle guidance in Northern Ireland continues to be to stay at home.

SUMMARY

Follow the guidance where you live, be mindful of relevant laws, apply common sense and act reasonably and responsibly at all times.

Best wishes to all and their families. Clearly these restrictions are there for good reasons. Sadly, many of us will be aware of persons or family members affected by the virus.

Call or email us if you need to. Always happy to help.

SACS Committee
13 May 2020

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