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Shooting and hunting exempt from Rule of Six rules in loophole for posh people

A bizarre loophole means posh hunting trips will be exempt from the new Rule of Six coronavirus regulations.

Up to 30 people can gather to hunt with guns because it is classed as a licensed outdoor sport.

The new rules mean that from Monday it is illegal to meet in groups of larger than six, with some exceptions.

The new regulations published just before midnight on Sunday include a number of loopholes for sports club, wedding receptions and even political protests.

But there is also an exemption for when "a gathering takes place outdoors (whether or not in a public outdoor space)" for the purpose of "a physical activity which is carried on outdoors", where a licence, permit or certificate is held by the organiser.

Guidance published by Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) today said "shooting (including hunting and paintball that requires a shotgun or firearms certificate licence) counts as a "sport or organised outdoor activity".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now come under fire for creating "one rule for one and one for another".

Insiders claim the hunting and shooting issue held up the publication of the new rules until shortly before they were implemented.

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A meeting by the Cabinet Office's special Covid-19 Operation ministerial committee was reportedly organised for Saturday, set to be chaired by Cabinet Officer secretary Michael Gove, and one of the items on the agenda was: "Exemption: hunting and shooting", the HuffPost reported.

But the meeting was cancelled only hours before, with cabinet ministers and officials told the issue would be discussed another time or via ministerial correspondence.

Many people on social media were furious that hunting and shooting appear to still be on the agenda.

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One fumed: "Now Boris Johnson has made shooting and hunting gatherings exempt from this rule. One rule for one and one for another."

Another added: "Welcome to Boris Johnson's 'golden age'."

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said in a statement: “The latest guidance says that there will be exceptions where groups can be larger than six, including work or voluntary services as well as outdoor sport and physical activity events.

“BASC continues to press ministers for further detail but believes that these exemptions encompass shooting where shoots operate in accordance with Covid secure guidance issued by representative shooting organisations, including BASC.”

People who break the rules and meet in groups larger than six face fines of up to £100, rising as high as £3,200 for repeat offenders.

A government spokesman said: "We have exempted over 30 types of sport, exercise and physical activity such as football, rugby and other outdoor pursuits.

"Outdoor activity is safer from a transmission perspective, and it is often easier to social distance. Where such activities take place, safety measures must be taken including conducting a risk assessment and compliance with Covid-19 secure guidelines."

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