Posted on February 25th, 2021

BEF update: plans to ease lockdown restrictions announced in England

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.

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’

Posted on February 25th, 2021

BD competition and training activity to return in England from 29th March

The outline plans for easing out of lockdown have now been announced by the governments in England and Scotland.  Organised competition and training activity will be able to return in England from 29th March, although in Scotland it is likely to be April before we will see a return to action.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s roadmap for the easing of the current lockdown in England yesterday and confirmed that organised sport can restart from 29 March onwards.  BD organised training and competition activity will therefore get back underway in England from this date, in line with the COVID protocols previously put in place, while all equestrian venues will be able to re-open for facility hire.

A number of steps were detailed, with indicative dates set at five week intervals.  The lifting of restrictions at each stage will be dependent on meeting criteria around infection rates and the continued success of the vaccination programme, as well as an assessment of risks for any new coronavirus variants.

As an overview, we’ve listed the key steps for England and what that means for BD activity:

Step One – Part A                                                                                                                            From 8 March

  • Two people can meet outdoors to socialise, not just for exercise purposes.

Coaches can continue to travel for one-to-one training activity in private facilities or livery yards where the horse resides.  Members can continue to travel to where their horse resides to look after their welfare, including for exercise.


Step One – Part B                                                                                                                            From 29 March

  • Groups of up to six people or two households can meet outdoors
  • Outdoor sports facilities will be able to re-open and organised sport can resume
  • Stay at home order will be lifted, although people will still be encouraged to stay local.

BD organised competition training and activity will resume in England from this date onwards.  All equestrian centres and riding schools will be allowed to re-open, with arena hire again permitted.


Step Two                                                                                                                                             From 12 April

  • Non-essential retail can re-open, including hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons
  • Indoor gyms and leisure facilities, libraries, zoos and theme parks can re-open
  • Food and drink can be served outdoors in pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes
  • Self-contained accommodation can re-open and self-catering holidays permitted.

From this stage onwards, you will be able to stay away from home in your own facilities or in self-catering accommodation in order to attend multi-day shows and competitions.  On-site retail shops and trade stands will be permitted to re-open at venues, while catering outlets will be able to serve food and drinks outside, not just for takeaway.


Step Three                                                                                                                                          From 17 May

  • Most social contact restrictions lifted outdoors
  • Groups of up to 30 people are permitted outdoors
  • Up to six people or two households will be able to meet indoors
  • Indoor hospitality can re-open, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs
  • Large indoor sporting events will be allowed, with a capacity of 1,000 people
  • Outdoor sporting events will have a maximum capacity of 50%, or up to 4,000 people.

At this point, we anticipate that spectators will again be allowed to attend competitions and shows, although numbers may still be limited depending on the size of venue.  On-site catering outlets may serve meals indoors. Restrictions on international travel will potentially be lifted from this date, which would allow riders to attend overseas shows to compete.


Step Four                                                                                                                                            From 21 June    

  • All legal limits on social contact removed
  • Restrictions on large events will be lifted.

All shows, training and regional camps can resume as normal, although the government will be reviewing social distancing rules, the mandatory use of face masks and other testing provisions at this stage, prior to lifting restrictions.