A return to normal—or at least, a new normal—is on the horizon as the USEF announced Wednesday that recognized competitions would return June 1.
“New normal” is the operative phrase here, as the USEF also laid out requirements to keep competitors safe. Effective immediately and subject to revisions as the COVID-19 situation evolves, the new requirements will remain in effect until further notice. (Find the full list outlined in the COVID-19 action plan released May 5.)
Here are the key points you need to know.
Mandatory requirements for participants:
Face masks, social distancing and routine temperature taking are now part of your standard show protocol under the USEF mandatory requirements for participants. And, of course, if you’re running a fever and/or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, stay away.
- Participants must self-monitor their temperature before entering competition grounds. Temperatures below 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (37.5 Celsius) may enter the grounds.
- Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 during the two previous weeks cannot enter the grounds.
- Participants must wear face masks or face coverings when not mounted. Participants may also wear masks or face coverings when mounted and cannot be disqualified or penalized for doing so while competing.
- Participants must comply with social distancing requirements at all times and adhere to other sanitization practices throughout the day.
Mandatory requirements for competition organizers:
Organizers, naturally, must also do their part. Requirements for organizers, beyond following applicable government regulations and WHO and CDC guidelines for mass gatherings and sporting events, revolve primarily around enforcing USEF restrictions, which seems akin to herding cats, but best of luck to you!
- Ensure all participants, including licensed officials and volunteers, provide emergency contact information. Execute an updated USEF Waiver and Release of Liability, Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement as a condition of participation.
- Create a COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan that includes local medical resources and address outbreak protocols. Inform all participants, officials and personnel of protocols and safeguards implemented against COVID-19 by providing a list of measures.
- Require temperature monitoring (<99.5˚F/37.5˚C) for volunteers, officials and staff once daily prior to entering competition grounds. Anyone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 during the past two weeks cannot enter the grounds. Notify USEF, all participants and staff if someone who was on the grounds tests positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of the competition’s conclusion.
- Enforce social distancing requirements at all times. The public, non-essential personnel, spectators and guests are prohibited from being on the grounds until further notice.
- Organize horse arrivals and departures so contact between people is limited.
- Restrict competition office access to essential personnel only, configure the space and limit office staff in compliance with social distancing. Limit the number of participants who can enter the office at one time. (e.g. schedule check-in and check-out times)
Exhibitors can expect changes to how stables, show offices, judges’ booths, etc. will be configured—all will have to allow for social distancing. One USEF recommendation is that competitors have all entry forms, etc. ready in advance—so no more last-minute dashes to the show office!—and you might have to schedule your arrival time.
Ride times may also be mandated for disciplines that don’t ordinarily require them, which seems like one upside of the COVID “normal” (whatever “normal” is, anyway).
Finally, organizers, USEF Stewards and USEF Technical Delegates have authority under USEF GR 702.1 and GR914 to remove any person not complying with the regulations and requirements in effect at the competition from the facility.
Welcome to horse showing in 2020! Now who sells masks that match saddle pad colors?