Grouse Shooting And Hunting Exempt From Covid-19 'Rule Of Six'
While the law now states we cannot meet in groups larger than six, or even briefly "mingle," the government has listed some obvious exemptions, such as sports clubs, wedding receptions, funerals and political protests.
But two other, more surprising, activities that are still allowed under the new restrictions are shooting and hunting - with groups of up to 30 permitted to meet because they are "licensed outdoor activities".
(Looks like its a toss up between participating in a spot of bloodsport or cancelling that party you had planned, then...)
Yep, new guidance on the rules, which has been published by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, reads: "Shooting including hunting and paintball that requires a shotgun or firearms certificate licence" counts as a "sport or organised outdoor activity".
According to The Huffington Post, the news of the exemption of bloodsports was initially delayed due to an internal government dispute.
The final plan (Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020) was then hurriedly released at the last minute, meaning most couldn't read it before it was legally enforced.
It appears as if fox hunting may not be exempted from restrictions, but the government's current position remains unclear.
Reacting to the news on Twitter, people had some strong opinions, to say the least.
Clearly incredulous, one person wrote: "I'm one of five siblings who almost all live in different households, so I can't see my family of seven at Christmas but I can go grouse shooting?"
Another penned: "I'm not allowed to sit down for a birthday meal with my immediate family at a restaurant but I can go for a spot of hunting and shooting with them."
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As a third wrote: "You can't go to the pub/shop with more than 6 friends or family members but you can all go shooting Grouse together and it's fine".
"Ah perfect so we can reopen theatres if we allow the audiences to wear flat cap, tweeds, have a shotgun and are accompanied by a Labrador," sarcastically wrote another.
I'm not allowed to sit down for a birthday meal with my immediate family at a restaurant but I can go for a spot of hunting and shooting with them.. pic.twitter.com/RuAXp8oveG
- BEC :dizzy: (@beckyfren) September 14, 2020
The government specify the shooting or hunting "[needs] to be organised by a club, business or charity; and/or involve someone who has received an official licence to use equipment relevant to the activity".
Those taking part in informal games with friends without adhering to restrictions could be fined up to £3,200.
The guidance explains: "When playing sports informally with people you don't live with, you must limit the size of your group to six. It is illegal to do so in a larger group and you may be fined".
So, there you have it, folks. Tough luck unless you have a shooting license...
Speaking on the new restriction exemptions, former minister Tracey Crouch agreed they were somewhat questionable.
"Many will find this topsy-turvy prioritisation from government," he said. "I've had queries about choirs, community bands, addiction therapy groups, all of whom would be worthy of an exemption and instead we are scrabbling around prioritising shooting animals. It's bonkers."
Meanwhile, Luke Pollard, the shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary, said: "Across the country, people are struggling to get Covid-19 tests anywhere near their homes.
"But the Conservatives are distracted with trying to exempt the bloodsport passions of their big donors from coronavirus regulations.
"It shows where this government's priorities really lie. It is clear there's one rule for the cabinet and their mates and another for the rest of us."
Featured Image Credit: PA