Coronavirus: Hunting and shooting exempt from 'rule of six'

The Scottish Land & Estates says the safe participation in country sports is 'vital' to helping the rural economy recover from the Covid-19 crisis
The Scottish Land & Estates says the safe participation in country sports is 'vital' to helping the rural economy recover from the Covid-19 crisis

Hunting and shooting are exempt from the government's new 'rule of six' regulations on social gatherings which came into force this week.

New Covid-19 rules restrict indoor and outdoor gatherings in England and Scotland, and indoor groups in Wales.

They have been in place since Monday (14 September) and come in response to an escalation in the UK's reproduction (R) number.

The regulations do, however, include exemptions for outdoor activities which will allow rural sports, including hunting and shooting, to continue under strict Covid protocols.



Any outdoor physical activity for which a licence has been issued by a public body for the activity itself, or for equipment used during the activity, will be exempt from the gathering limits.

The organiser will be required to have undertaken a health and safety risk assessment and put in place all reasonable measures to limit transmission of Covid-19.



Shooting activities where the organiser or any participant holds a valid shotgun or firearms certificate for the relevant activity will therefore be exempt.

Sports gatherings for people who are not elite sportspersons to 'take part in any sport or other fitness related activity' are also exempted from the gathering limits providing they are run by businesses or other organisations and operate safe protocols.

It follows substantial work by rural organisations such as the Countryside Alliance, which recently met with government ministers and pro-shooting MPs on the issue.

The Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) said the safe participation in country sports was 'vital' to helping the rural economy recover.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive of the rural business association, said critics of country sports 'appeared content' to see thousands of workers’ livelihoods lost in order to prevent the activity taking place.

Ms Laing said: “We have seen an array of calls being made for country sports to be halted, which would deliver a crushing blow to the rural economy at a time when it has already been struggling during the pandemic.

“A recent Scottish government commissioned review highlighted how important grouse shooting is for employment, reporting that around six gamekeeper jobs are maintained for the same area of land that would need one shepherd if used for farming.



“Country sports is an open air pursuit where social distancing is easily practiced and a Covid-19 framework is adhered to."