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SCOTLAND CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – 09 OCTOBER 2020

We have been getting a number of calls and messages from members (and others who perhaps should consider becoming members) asking how the new temporary Covid-19 restrictions affect game shooting, stalking, pest control and other organised outdoor pursuits.

SCOTLAND CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – 09 OCTOBER 2020

There have been rumours that non-essential travel in the Scottish Central Belt areas is prohibited and that, specific to shooting, only essential pest control travel can continue. To be absolutely clear, with the information available to SACS, at today’s date such a travel ban is simply not the case.

Let's explore the relevant facts.

Current Scottish Government Covid-19 route map wording relevant to shooting and country sports organised activities:

“All organised sports and activities must follow specific rules and guidance of relevant sport governing bodies, local authorities or businesses who in turn have fully applied related Scottish Government and sportscotland guidance.”

And:

“Organised sport: Sports organisations will need to refer to guidance produced by their Scottish Governing Body of Sport and ensure they operate as per the guidance.”

We can see that this routemap was updated earlier today so the above still stands as correct.

The relevant Scottish Government approved country sports Covid-19 framework can be found here: /news/country-sports-in-scotland-a-proposed-framework-for-covid-19-precautions

And the new Scottish central belt restrictions can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-additional-measures-october-2020/

In particular let’s look at the new travel section affecting the Central Belt areas from today for 16 days:

"We want people to be safe. We are not advising that people who have already booked holiday accommodation in October need to cancel. More generally, please think about whether you need to travel, especially if you live in or would be travelling to, or through, the central belt. The Scottish Government is asking people within the central belt areas (see end note for definition) to think carefully about whether they need to travel outside their local health board area and, where that is necessary, to plan to do so safely”

Is that a travel ban? No.

Does it ask you to think about your travel needs? Yes.

The First Minister’s own words:
“While there are significant restrictions still in place - and they are hard and painful - we are living much more freely now than in the spring and early summer. We are determined - if at all possible - that this will continue to be the case. We are not going back into lockdown today. We are not closing schools. We are not halting the remobilisation of the NHS for non-Covid care. And we are not asking people to stay at home.

Does any of this say that only essential and work-related shooting activities should continue? No.

Is ScotGov asking people to apply mental low ratio gears and a dose of common sense in relation to all travel from home? Yes.

In essence, if you don’t need to put yourself and others at risk of transmission then don’t – no different to limiting the number of times you need to go to the supermarket and how you behave when you do. So please, apply your own common sense to your own personal circumstances and do everything you can to limit interaction with other people – and not just in the Central Belt area, but UK-wide.

Throughout this crisis the shooting and country sports community has demonstrated responsible conduct and community-mindfulness. We have heard from Police Scotland that they are very happy with the way certificated shooters have conducted themselves since March. We have heard from individual MSPs they understand that shooting and country sports are straightforward to continue under physical distancing measures. We have heard that they do not see our community as a major transmission concern.

Shooting and country sports are a very limited Covid-19 transmission risk, so please use your head and common sense and let’s keep it that way. What we do not need are unfounded rumours of travel bans and only essential pest control. Our rural economy needs all the help it can get to survive this crisis, so let's not try to cripple ourselves further. If you can conduct your rural and country sports activities within ScotGov Covid guidance and our country sports framework then please continue to support rural jobs and fragile rural economies as best you can.

Last word for today: stay safe, stay sensible, stay well-informed of local news and keep a sense of humour and perspective. We’ve come this far together; dig deep and let’s keep going a little further. Make the best of the stalking and shooting season and create some good memories from what has been a fairly crap year.

Alex Stoddart
SACS