Some years, at around this time of year, I write an article extolling everybody to ensure that their Shoot Health & Safety Risk Assessment is in place and properly updated prior to the season beginning. I normally reinforce the point by highlighting some ghastly accident that took place the season before and stress that updating an existing assessment is a simple exercise. Not so this year!

Like all operations, shoots will need to ensure that they have a comprehensive Covid-19 risk assessment in place alongside the normal document. As the Prime Minister has said that he hopes everything will be back to near normal by November, it may be tempting to delay the work in the hope that it is not necessary. However, given what is currently occurring around the world, it would seem sensible to begin the planning process well in advance. If the regulations ease, it is simple to adjust the plan. If they don’t, you are prepared.

Given the nature of shooting, being part work and part pleasure, it does not fit terribly well into any of the Government’s pigeon holes. As things stand, outdoor socialising is limited to groups of only six people. More are allowed if the group consists of people from only two households. It is currently against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes, including outdoors.

Consideration should be given as to how and when people will arrive at the shoot, including how they will be properly briefed on Covid issues and sanitisation facilities provided. It may well be worth segregating the different groups of shoot personnel (ie guns, beaters and pickers up) to limit the possibility of cross infection. Names and contact details should be recorded and stored for at least 21 days in case they are required for “Track and Trace” purposes.

Movement around the shoot is another area of concern. Ideally, everybody should walk throughout the day, but this will not be practical for all. Beaters should be transported in accordance with Covid guidelines.

l Tom Wills is head of agriculture and estates at law firm Sintons. To speak to Tom about this or any other matter, please contact him on or (0191) 226 379