Covid: Welsh ‘firebreak’ disaster for shooting, say locals
Shoots are required to close during a new Welsh lockdown from 23 October to 9 November
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced a time-limited ‘firebreak’ lockdown this week saying it would be: “A short, sharp, shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time”.
From 6pm Friday 23 October to 9 November people in Wales have been ordered to stay at home except for very limited reasons, such as exercise. Travel in and out of the principality is forbidden.
As well as shoots, golf clubs, tennis clubs, swimming pools and leisure centres are also required to close.
Shooting UK spoke to some local shoots to discover what the implications were. “It’s a bloody disaster” said Robert Jones of Long Mountain Shoot in Powys. “The Government don’t think about where the money is going to come from. We have tried to relocate booked clients to other dates but they have committed the time and often can’t reschedule. They have diaries planned 12 months in advance. Trying to fit them into shoots in England on the days they booked is causing a real headache.”
Ben Brown of Hardwick Sporting, which runs shoot days in the Welsh Borders, agreed. “We can’t really reschedule days. In addition many clients aren’t shooting this year because times are difficult. They don’t want to be seen spending money on shooting when people have lost their jobs. The main problem with this firebreak is that it has pushed the problem down the road. If it continues it will be an absolute disaster for shooting.”
Chris Horne of GunsOnPegs commented: “The shoots I have spoken to are rescheduling days wherever possible and doing their best to accommodate guns for the period after the lockdown ends. For some of the largest shoots, this is tricky because of a busy diary. If days are required to be moved to next season, it means the income is lost this year, along with the tax receipts and part time employment for those days.”
(GunsOnPegs is just launching a scheme which allows shooters to pay for shooting on 12 months interest-free finance and if the shoot is locked down, shooters get a refund.)
BASC Wales director Steve Griffiths, said: “We are fully expecting shooting to be able to resume following the two week ‘firebreak’ in Wales. Shooting has proven itself able to be undertaken in a Covid-secure manner and we are making that point clear to the Welsh Government.”