The National Gamekeepers Organisation working with other leading sector groups have produced a document ‘COVID safe principles for game shoots in England’ which outlines the principles for the safe operation of game shoots in England during the Covid pandemic. The document, which references the relevant government guidance and regulations currently in place, has been produced to assist those managing game shoots, to think about, and manage, the risk posed by COVID-19. Assessing the risk of COVID-19 is essential for the safety of all participants, and each shoot will need to be considered in the context of its own operations. How risk is managed must take into account the regulations and government guidance in force on the day of the shoot.
This document has been produced to assist those managing game shoots to think about and manage the risk posed by COVID-19. It is not exhaustive, and each shoot will need to evaluate its own operations.
The Government has outlined five practical actions to take to manage the risk of COVID-19. Those actions that can readily be applied to shoots to help reduce the risk posed by COVID-19 currently include:
Assessing the risk of COVID-19 on shoots is essential for the safety of all participants. How risk is managed must take into account the regulations and government guidance in force on the day of the shoot.
Anyone displaying symptoms of COVID19, or who shares a household with any individual displaying symptoms, must not attend the shoot day.
Keeping COVID-19 out of the shoot is the most effective way to minimise the risk of infection. Anyone with symptoms, or who has, or may have been exposed to COVID-19 within 14 days prior to the shoot must not attend and should follow government guidance on self-isolation.
To support government ‘test and trace’ efforts, you should obtain full names and contact telephone numbers of anyone attending a shoot day. Further information on self-isolation and test and trace can be found here.
Considerations prior to the shoot day
Individual shoots should undertake their own risk assessment and scenario planning for shoot days to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect all participants.
When applying mitigation measures you must refer to and take account of government regulations and guidance in force at the time the shoot is to take place.
Determining who should attend the shoot
Government guidance on determining who should be attending a place of work can be readily applied to shoots. The measures you need to take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 can be found in here.
Travel to the shoot
Measures to limit the risk of COVID-19 for those travelling to a shoot can be found here.
Accommodation for participants
Consider any restrictions on accommodation and the hospitality sector and communicate these to visitors. The latest government guidance for accommodation providers can be found here.
Visitors from abroad
Have discussion with any visitors from abroad who are due to attend the shoot. There may be quarantine rules for those arriving from overseas which would need to be observed before they can visit the shoot. The latest government guidance can be found here.
You must comply with restrictions on social gatherings in force at the time of the shoot. If a shoot is being run as a business, then under current regulations it can host more than 30 people provided it takes necessary steps to mitigate the risk of transmission. Otherwise, the regulations currently allow for gatherings of up to 30 persons outdoors and indoors. Appropriate measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19 should be in place as outlined within this document.
Arrival at the shoot / shoot briefing
Congregation of the shoot party, beaters, pickers-up or others poses transmission risk for COVID-19. Social distancing measures should be put in place in accordance with the government guidelines and restrictions on gatherings must be adhered to. Further information can be found as follows:
Utilise ‘fixed team’ working (called bubbles) to reduce the risk of transmission between groups. Further detail can be found within the COVID-19 secure guidelines for ‘Construction and other outdoor work’ here.
Where possible, travel around the shoot should be on foot, as this allows social distancing to be maintained and reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
If practicable, individuals or different household groups should travel in separate vehicles. Transport should be planned well in advance of the day to ensure appropriate provision is in place.
Shared equipment, cartridges and waste
Sharing equipment on shoot days increases the transmission risk of COVID-19. To reduce the risk follow guidance for outdoor work for ‘cleaning the workplace’ here.
All Government guidance on social distancing and limits on gatherings in place on the day of the shoot, must be followed. Guidance for meeting other people can be found here with further guidance for gatherings here.
Provision of food and refreshments
Many shoots will provide food and refreshments. The provision of food and refreshments is a high-risk area for transmission of COVID-19. Further guidance on food hygiene during the Covid pandemic can be found here and here.
Handwashing and hygiene:
Frequent handwashing or hand sanitising are effective ways to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. You should consider ways to improve and increase the frequency of handwashing and sanitising on shoot days. General guidance on limiting risk from COVID-19 can be found here.
With a rise in public access to rural areas, shoot organisers should consider other land users such as walkers who may be present on shoot days. This will increase other risks associated with the shoot day, as well as potentially increasing COVID-19 transmission sources.
Guidance for beating and picking up
Gathering limits do not apply to employees where gatherings are necessary for work purposes. You will still need to consider adopting appropriate measures for your workforce. Government guidance for ‘outdoor work’ can be found here.
Guidance for guns / shoot party:
Loading, whether for single gun or double guns, requires individuals to operate within 1m of one another. Unless the loader is from the same household, this breaches guidance on social distancing. As such loading should only take place if absolutely necessary, following the government guidance for ‘close contact’ services here. Individual shoots should also take into account any additional implications for health and safety from following this guidance.
Loading for double guns poses a higher risk than single gun loading, due to the constant handling and transfer of guns. Appropriate cleaning and sanitising precautions should be in place for all shared equipment in line with government guidance here.
Guidance for handling of shot game
All game should be handled in accordance with established game handling and hygiene requirements. These requirements can be found here. General guidance on social distancing and hygiene should also be in place.
You should consider the transmission risk associated with handling cash or cheques in relation to payments. Electronic payment is the lowest risk option for payments and should be used where practicable. Where physical payments are made, measures should be in place to meet hygiene and social distancing requirements.