7th August 2020
Rural communities and businesses are stepping up their efforts to ensure extra safety measures are in place to enable the traditional rural shooting season to go ahead, starting with grouse on August 12th.
The provision of shooting makes a £2billion contribution to the UK economy and supports thousands of jobs in fragile employment areas. Up to 30 people will be able to attend a single shoot.
A widespread safety initiative has been launched so that shooting can resume safely and within government COVID-19 guidelines.
Guidance has been issued by countryside organisations setting out the numerous steps that shoot businesses should take (https://bit.ly/33vPEQU)
These include the use of personal protection equipment, implementation of social distancing measures, food hygiene guidance on shoot days and travel restrictions.
At Swinton Estate in Yorkshire, training for the new arrangements is well underway with gamekeepers wearing visors and facemasks and beaters practicing socially distanced lines.
Gary Taylor, head keeper at the Swinton Estate, said: “It’s vitally important for rural communities in some of our most remote areas that the economy opens up as quickly as it can but we can only do that successfully, if all the right safety measures are in place. It does feel a bit unreal but all businesses, whether they are in towns or the countryside, have had to adapt.
“We’re trying to make sure that everyone who comes to a shoot day whether they are working or a guest is well prepared and know the ropes. At our shoot days we will be explaining what we all have to do. If we can get going again safely, it can only be good for the local communities.”
Game dealer, Nick Lister, from Ox Close Fine Foods, near Wetherby, attended the Swinton training session. He said: “We supply game to local pubs and to restaurants all over the UK and abroad and the last four months have been a body blow for all kinds of rural businesses. However, we have got to look on the positive side and do what we can to get going again and make sure that food is provided safely to customers.
“The last few days have been a bit uncertain because of various reports of spikes in COVID cases but as along as pubs and restaurants can stay open we have a chance to get going.”
Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “People running all kinds of rural businesses are acutely aware of the need to strike the right balance between trying to re-invigorate the economy as well as keeping everyone safe.
“The moors are there to be enjoyed by everyone and it will be a great boost to local businesses if shooting can be resumed successfully and safely delivering fresh, healthy wild game meat to the table.”