Outdoor Equestrian Sport included in Phase 1 Reopening

  • 13 May 2020, 13:26

Outdoor equestrian activities fall under the Irish government’s Roadmap for Reopening of Society and Business, Phase 1, due to commence on May 18, according to Horse Sport Ireland.

Horse Sport Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy said:

“I am delighted to say that following proactive engagement between Horse Sport Ireland and Sport Ireland, that Equestrian Sport has been deemed an outdoor sporting activity and as a result is permitted to reopen in Phase 1, due to commence on May 18. This is subject to ensuring that the guidance protocols are in place and strictly adhered to by all stakeholders. It is very positive that equestrian activity, is deemed a non-contact, outdoor activity and therefore eligible to resume in Phase 1 in strict adherence with the Government guidelines.”

Ronan Murphy, CEO of Horse Sport Ireland (Photo: Sportsfile)

The “Equestrian Sport Ready”, submission, provided to Government in April, includes guidance protocols, aimed at ensuring that considered protocols and procedures can be put in place to allow an incremental resumption of equestrian activity. This submission was the basis on which the Horse Sport Ireland sought the inclusion by the Government of the resumption of Equestrian Sport Phase 1 of its Roadmap.

“We are encouraging everyone to take a conservative view of the Phase 1 return to ensure public safety. We are also communicating clearly that the sector must adhere to public health advice including social distancing and travel limits. The onus is on all of those involved, from participants and providers, to do everything they can to reduce risk, they must act responsibly and in line with the guidelines to protect our restart in the interest of all our stakeholders. The attention of all those in the industry must now focus on preparedness and risks assessments to ensure adherence to protocols while ensuring their insurers are satisfied with the draft protocols and risk assessments undertaken,” said Mr Murphy.

Government Roadmap for Reopening of Society and Business, Phase 1

The Gov Roadmap sets out five stages for unlocking restrictions, on an interval basis, in which the Country will open in a controlled and managed way. It’s important to note that as the Government ease restrictions, the rate of the virus in the community will be constantly monitored by the National Public Health Emergency Team and the Government. In context of Equestrianism and Phase 1 (Sporting & Cultural), stakeholders are reminded of the ease of restrictions within as set out:

Within 5km radius of your home, the following is permitted:

  • Attendance at outdoor public sports amenities (e.g. pitches, tennis courts, golf courses etc) where social distancing can be maintained.
  • Permit people to engage in outdoor sporting and fitness activities, either individually or in very small groups (maximum 4 people), where social distancing can be maintained and where there is no contact.

Mr Murphy said, “Horse Sport Ireland is strongly urging all stakeholders to be true ambassadors for their sport and strictly adhere to the Phase 1 ease of restrictions. Equestrian Sport is in the very privileged position to be allowed to resume at this early stage and this return has been based on the sport being able to demonstrate to government that it can take place in a safe, socially distant manner. The onus is on everyone throughout the Sport Horse Sector and it is in everyone’s interest that it is well observed and successful.”

Key points:

  • The Government Roadmaps for Reopening of Society and the Return to Work combined “Equestrian Sport Ready” set out how we can take responsible actions to minimise any risk.
  • Each stakeholder must familiarise themselves with the Government issued guidance, specifically related to the public health rationale in lifting restrictions.
  • Stakeholders must be equally very cognisant of the recently published Gov “Return to Work” protocols as same applies to equestrian businesses throughout Sport Horse Sector. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation advise that the Protocol should be used by all workplaces to adapt their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures identified as necessary by the HSE. It sets out in very clear terms for employers and workers the steps that they must take before a workplace reopens, and while it continues to operate. The Return to Work Protocol is mandatory and it applies to all workplaces right across the economy.
  • Stakeholders must ensure their insurers are satisfied with the draft protocols and risk assessments undertaken.

As one of the first sports to be allowed to resume, there is a major responsibility on all Equestrian stakeholders to ensure that our sport is conducted in a safe and responsible manner. As such, it is incumbent on each individual to behave responsibility and within the guidelines so that equestrian sport can continue to evolve on an incremental basis through the Phases. Notwithstanding, Horse Sport Ireland in conjunction with our Affiliate Family and Equestrian Venues will be closely monitoring the compliance of the protocols by all participants and stakeholders. Where applicable, and where necessary, will seek to enforce sanctions for non-compliance. As such, Horse Sport Ireland respectfully request that each stakeholder be mindful in their actions to ensure that Sport Horse Industry is permitted to move through the Phases and recover from this crisis.

It should be noted that the Government continues to monitor the situation closely and has not ruled out the reintroduction of restrictions which could see permissible Equestrian activity rescinded if the guidance and Government directives are not followed.

“Our Industry must continue to do everything we can to reduce risk and the public health advice is a guide to achieving that aim. At this time Horse Sport Ireland seek to provide guidance and support and same shouldn’t be interpreted as providing legal advice or otherwise. It is important that each stakeholder, affiliate, participant, athlete, producer, equestrian business owner, competition venue, etc satisfy themselves that they achieve the standards as set out in Government publications so a safe system is employed. Within Horse Sport Ireland, the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency remains our primary concern and overriding priority. Horse Sport Ireland acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of all frontline workers which has allowed Equestrian Sport and society in general to consider this gradual return to normal life,” concluded Mr Murphy.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive has published a phased five-stage coronavirus recovery plan. The document sets out the approach the Executive will take when deciding how to ease coronavirus restrictions in the future. However as of now, there are no fixed dates for when any single restriction will be lifted. Until such time as the NI five-stage recovery plan is introduced, the current restrictions on travel within Northern Ireland apply as outlined on the NI Direct Website HERE 

Horse Sport Ireland is in consultation with Sport Ireland and Sport NI, with the aim that a safe, incremental resumption of equestrian activity is included in the Northern Ireland recovery plan and will issue further details when HSI receives clarity from the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland.

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