Fishing is permitted in the second Covid-19 lockdown in England that started for 28 days from November 5, 2020 – but some fisheries are treading carefully with the rules.
Tackle shops are also unsure of the ‘click and collect’ rules so some are offering the service and other are totally shutting down as non-essential shops can’t legally trade as normal for the four-week lockdown.
Governing body the Angling Trust was pivotal in getting fishing allowed at the end of the first lockdown at the end of May and have confirmed anglers are able to carry on fishing as normal in England in November as long as they follow some guidelines.
An Angling Trust statement revealed: “Overall the Angling Trust is pleased that ministers have recognised the value of allowing angling and some other forms of outdoor recreation to continue through the forthcoming lockdown period.
“However, the new rules are more complicated than we had hoped and anglers should be fully aware of what we can and can’t do in the next 28 days.
“The regulations are clear and you can only leave home to fish with members of your own household, your support bubble or with one other individual. The ‘rule of six’ is now effectively the ‘rule of two’ for most of us. The tightening of the rules on ‘gatherings’ means that match fishing or any other organised fishing event is prohibited by law during lockdown.”
However, competitive fishing will be able to resume once there is a return to the three tier system of restrictions.
“Angling is deemed a permissible form of ‘outdoor recreation’, and a lawful reason to leave home. It can take place, without time limits, within the provision allowing people ‘to visit a public outdoor space for the purposes of open air recreation’.
“Fisheries are not on the published list of businesses that the government has ordered to close and there is no reason that they should do so providing that they operate in accordance with the rules
“It does not permit club outings or organised amateur sporting activities of any sort. All indoor or social facilities in any way connected with a fishing venue must close or refer to the relevant Government guidance. Fishing tackle shops, whether onsite or not, can only operate a ‘click and collect’ service.
“Whilst the government have chosen not to write their travel guidance into law we are urging anglers to respect the advice which states that it is permissible to travel in order to fish.
“Put simply, you can travel to go fishing but long journeys should be avoided wherever possible.
“You absolutely cannot leave home to fish if you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating.
“There are no limits on the time that can be spent on outdoor recreation which means that anglers are able to continue fishing into and through the hours of darkness providing the other rules are observed,” it concluded.
Trust chief executive Jamie Cook is hopes angling will be allowed throughout any extended lockdown period over the forthcoming months, if the government keep lockdown conditions in place longer than the original planned 28 days, especially after they announced the furlough job scheme will continue until the end of March 2021.
Cook said: “We are obviously pleased that fishing can continue during lockdown even with the restrictions that are in place which have temporarily suspended match fishing.
“Angling has conducted itself safely and responsibly throughout this pandemic and the Angling Trust is determined to ensure that our chosen form of outdoor recreation remains part of the solution rather than the problem. To do this anglers must continue to fish safely, locally and responsibly.”
But England’s biggest and most popular carp complex Linear Fisheries near Oxford is stopping night fishing as a precautionary Covid-safe measure on their 500-plus swims.
Fishery manager Chris Blunt revealed: “As it stands there is still some uncertainty about whether sports fisheries can remain open after the close of business on November 5. Based on this uncertainty, from Friday we will be operating the complex as a day-only fishery (no night fishing), this will be until further notice or the end of lock-down.
“The Fishery Tackle Shop will remain open on a click and collect basis with orders being taken over the phone and collected or orders taken at the door. Unfortunately you will not be allowed into the store from Friday.
“The government advice is for local travel only – so please refer to current government restrictions before travelling.
“This is obviously not a decision we wish to take and we can only apologize for restricting your fishing at this time. Stay safe and let’s get through the next month and hope we can all get back to some sort of normality in December,” added Blunt.
And Beaver Fishery near East Grinstead, West Sussex, are keeping all their eight lakes open for day and night fishing but are closing their onsite tackle shop.
Beaver Fishery officer Andy Squire said: “After the Angling Trust's work in keeping angling open during this coming lockdown we are pleased to announce that we will be open for day and night fishing as normal. There will however be some changes, the main one being that the tackle shop will be open for ticket sales only. No tackle or bait will be sold during this lockdown as we do not have the facility for click and collect. Masks must be worn when entering the office for tickets and hand sanitiser must be applied before entering which is situated by the main door. We will also provide extra hand sanitiser outside the toilets as well as inside.
“As stated in the Angling Trust`s guidance, you can only fish with members of your own household, someone in your support bubble or with only one other person. The rule of six no longer applies and is now the rule of two.
“Usual Covid restrictions apply, social distancing, regular hand washing and not gathering in groups must be adhered to. It is down to us to follow these guidelines so angling can remain one of the few pastimes allowed during the current lockdown,” added Andy.
Each home nation is now operating its own coranavirus restrictions and in Wales angling had to have a ‘fire break’ during their recent mini lockdown October 23 to November 9 where anglers could only travel locally to fish on foot or by bike.
But since Tuesday, November 10, 2020, anglers residing in Wales will now be able to go fishing wherever they wish in Wales by any means of transport, subject to social distancing measures.
And fisheries, tackle shops and charter boats in Wales will be able to operate, subject to Welsh Government COVID-19 guidance.
An Angling Trust statement said: “In Wales, you will be able to fish with somebody else (outside of your own household) if you form a ‘bubble’ with them.
“And up to 30 people can take part in outdoors activity. For anglers this means competitions can take place within Wales, with up to 30 participants (subject to social distancing rules).
“But travel restrictions will be in force between Wales and England due to the on-going coronavirus lock down in England (which ends December 2) travel is prohibited between Wales and England, and vice versa, unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. A reasonable excuse would be for work purposes or essential food shopping.
“Therefore, anglers residing in Wales should not travel beyond the Welsh border into England to go fishing. Likewise, anglers based in England should not travel into Wales to fish, in-line with the English lock down rules on non-essential travel.”
Scotland is under a five tier regional system but angling is currently allowed under all levels of restrictions at the start of November 2020.
An Angling SCotland Limited statement explained: “There can be no guarantee that more restrictions won’t be needed in the coming weeks and months. Public health and well-being remains the most pressing priority and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to continue to suppress the spread of the virus.
“Therefore, we are still strongly encouraging individuals to only travel as far as is necessary to participate in angling activities. All anglers are asked to follow the guidance in the same exemplary manner as they did earlier in the year and to date.If individuals feel in any doubt at all then please interpret the guidance within the spirit of the day and place personal safely and the safety of others as the over-riding priority.”
Northern Ideland had their own strict four week lockdown from October 16, 2020, that included pubs and restaurants closing but angling is allowed during this mini-lockdown.
The only limit was anglers could only meet outdoor in groups of a maximum of 15 while keeping social distancing, but only anglers in their own household bubble could fish together on a boat.
Republic of Ireland
Inland fisheries Ireland have confirmed angling is allowed for individuals in a second strict Irish lockdown until December 1, 2020, as long as people stay local as fishing is regarded an outdoor exercise.
An IFI statement said: “All anglers must remain within 5 km of your home. Follow up-to-date Government advice. Angling competitions are not permitted.”
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