NI restrictions from the 26th December

New Restriction’s come into force from 00:01 on the 26th December meaning no Boxing Day events can take place.

Having listened to the Chief Medical and Scientific Officers Countryside Alliance Ireland recognises the significant challenges facing the health service due to the COVID-19 pandemic and understand that the NI Executive have had to make difficult decisions introducing restrictions from the 26th to overcome this virus.

Countrysports have been greatly affected by last nights announcement stopping all sport even at elite level and the ongoing stop start nature of activities. As a sport we have worked hard throughout the pandemic to ensure the safety of all of those taking part.

Please remember there is a strong “stay at home” message.

We understand that many may be disappointed not being able to engage in their chosen activities for at least the next 4 weeks. However we would urge members to ensure continued full compliance with the regulations in both letter and spirit which will put us on a platform to a return to full activity at the earliest opportunity.

CAI will continue to highlight the importance of Countrysports and its importance for the health and wellbeing in society.


No sporting activity will be allowed at all during the first week of lockdown, from 26 December.

However, elite sport will be allowed to resume – without spectators – from 2 January.

All sports facilities such as leisure centres, gyms, health clubs, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios must close.

Other exercise facilities, including activity centres, equestrian centres (access for the purpose of animal welfare is permitted), marinas, and venues relating to motor sport and water sport must also remain closed.

You cannot participate in personal one-to-one training sessions or group activities such as running or cycling.

This means we will not be able to partake in Countrysports as groups or syndicates.

When the Northern Ireland Executive review the restrictions around the 23rd January hopefully they will allow outdoor group activities to restart before the restrictions come to an end.

Outdoor exercise

Outdoor exercise will be permitted only with members of your own household at least for the first week.

The regulations state:

Only individual or household outdoor exercise is permitted. Physical activity such as walking, running, cycling, horse riding, or just walking the dog, bring many health benefits. 

As it says “such as” this means it is not limited to the activities listed above therefore a countrysports activity would be permitted as long as it was part of your daily exercise in line with the regulations

What is permitted

Under the new coronavirus regulations, you should work from home if at all possible. Only leave for essential purposes such as education, healthcare needs, to care for others, or outdoor exercise.


Essential bird and mammalian pest control to protect crops, livestock, or for conservation may continue during the lockdown period. Pest bird shooting must comply with relevant general or individual licences as applicable. Pest control services requested by a landowner or agent can be construed either as work (whether paid or unpaid) or voluntary service. We strongly advise during this lockdown period that you have confirmation from the farmer requesting your services to address an immediate problem (i.e. a recent text message)

Game management and gamekeeping activities may continue during the lockdown period.  Ensuring that birds under your care are adequately provided with food and water is important.

Recreational shooting as part of your daily exercise activities such as informal rough shooting, wildfowling and recreational deer stalking may be permitted if these are carried out on an individual/household basis.
You should avoid all unnecessary travel.

Non-essential retailers such as gun shops are allowed to trade remotely online or mail order etc.


While hunting is not permitted It is important that both horse and hound exercise continues with only the minimum number of personnel to manage hounds following all social distancing rules.


Is permitted on a individual/household basis.

Other advice

Before undertaking any activity in the current climate with hospitals currently working at or above 100% and with challenges of COVID-19, we would ask members to carry out a risk assessment before undertaking any task and avoid taking any unnecessary risks.

If carrying out essential vermin control during lockdown, we advise taking a copy of your shotgun or firearm certificate with you, confirmation from the landowner requesting your services and paperwork permitting you to shoot on the land you are on.

During lockdown local sensitivities can be high. Although it is not a legal requirement you may want to log your trip in advance with Police on 101.

Everyone shooting during lockdown must consider the impact of their actions on the image and reputation of the sport.  We all have a responsibility to comply with the letter and spirit of the regulations and guidance in place.

As the virus can live on gates and other hard surfaces for sometime, No-one should partake in any form of Country Sports if they have any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19 and should immediately self isolate and follow current government advice.




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