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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A very Tory exemption

Government rules on Covid-19 restrictions in England are confusing enough, without a series of bizarre exemptions that have added to a sense the absurd. It is bad enough that children are included in the so-called rule of six, whereas in Wales, those under the age of eleven are not, without bringing the hunting set into it as well.

As the Guardian reports, UK Ministers have determined that grouse shooting and hunting with guns in England are among outdoor activities exempted from the government’s “rule of six” coronavirus regulations:

Confirmation that the latest health protection regulations permit groups of up to 30 to take part in any “sports gathering” was published only minutes before coming into force.

According to one report, an internal government row over whether bloodsports should be exempted was alleged to have delayed their release.

Like its previous versions, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, was produced too late for most people to read it before they were subject to its legally enforceable rules.

An accompanying government coronavirus guidance page provides clearer instructions on “What you can and can’t do” from Monday 14 September.

It contains a list of sports and physical activities in which people can participate in groups of more than six. The list includes mainstream sports like football, rugby, cricket, and hockey as well as less popular sports such as curling, polo and shooting.

The reference to shooting is the only one qualified with a note that says: “Including hunting and paintball that requires a shotgun or firearms certificate licence”. A link takes readers to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

In a statement on its website, BASC said: “The ‘rule of six’ restrictions brought in today could have disrupted game shooting which usually includes eight or more people. However, the exemption will allow shooting to operate under Covid-safe guidance.”

It is a very Tory exemption.
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