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Animal owners and businesses dealing with animals - COVID-19 advice

Dog with coronavirus germ

This page was updated on the 19 July 2021

The Government has decided to move to step 4 of the roadmap. The pandemic is not over. Cases are increasing rapidly and a third wave is underway. Step 4 does not mark the end of the need for caution and restraint. It is important to remember the pandemic is not over. Cases are currently rising, as are hospitalisations. Cases, hospitalisations and, sadly, deaths, will rise further as society and the economy reopen. Lifting Coronavirus restrictions does not mean that the risks from COVID-19 have disappeared. Vigilance must be maintained and people will be asked to make informed decisions and act carefully and proportionately, to manage the risks to themselves and others. 

For more information see HM Government COVID-19 Response Summer 2021.

Carrying out risk assessments

Businesses still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. Many control measures that have been in place previously were there due to health and safety legislation rather than the specific coronavirus legislation. It remains very important to implement suitable control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between employees and members of the public.

When undertaking your risk assessment you must have regard to the available guidance. Following the guidance is not compulsory, unless specifically stated, and you are free to take other action, so long as the same level of protection is achieved. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to guidance. Failure to implement suitable control measures may lead to formal action being taken against the duty holder(s).

For more information on COVID-19 risk assessments visit HSE - Coronavirus.

It is also important to remember that your risk assessment and subsequent controls will be influenced by the prevalence of COVID-19 in the general population of Preston, the numbers of people in Preston who have received their vaccine and the demographics of your customers (Age, general health etc).

When the prevalence of COVID-19 in the general population is considered high then businesses will be expected to implement stricter control measures. When the prevalence of COVID-19 is lower in the general population then fewer or less strict control measures maybe acceptable.  

Currently the prevalence of COVID-19 in population of Preston and Lancashire is very high and businesses will be expected to have more and stricter control measures.

High COVID-19 cases in Lancashire and stricter control measures

Currently the prevalence of COVID-19 in the population of Preston and Lancashire is very high and businesses will be expected to have more and stricter control measures. These include:

  • Asking staff and customers to clean their hands regularly;
  • Cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly;
  • Reducing unnecessary contact in the workplace, where it is practical. This means ensuring different groups of customers remain separate and keeping employees working in bubbles etc;
  • Ensuring that all indoor spaces are well ventilated (ensuring windows and doors are opened) and utilising outdoor space where practical.

Transmission of Covid-19 between animals and people

There remains little evidence that pets are implicated in the transmission of Coronavirus to people and infection of the pet is rare, but that there is some risk of virus potentially being carried from person to person on pets and their belongings although scientific assessment is now that such transmission is relatively unlikely. There have been some rare instances where infected owners have passed on infection to their pets but there remains no evidence of onward transmission and the main route of transmission remains person-to-person.

The simple precaution of washing hands for twenty seconds, or using hand sanitiser (when hand washing facilities are unavailable), as frequently as possible should now be intrinsic in every activity. Face coverings are not mandatory in many cases (except for Vets) but should be used a good practice in any indoor environments where employees are unavoidably mixing with members of the public.

Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted for the private care of animals

There are no restrictions on walking your pet dogs, walking a friends dog or visiting a Livery to tend to a horse.

Businesses that deal with animals

You should read the guidance on our Employers and Employees COVID-19 pages for general advice.

Dog and cat boarding

We would strongly recommend that you do not alter your coronavirus procedures at this time, due to the high COVID-19 rates in Preston & Lancashire.

  • Pets should only be admitted or sent home by appointment to ensure you only have a single client on the premises at any one time.
  • The business handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed with the owner retaining all equipment such as leads.
  • Any material such as collars, toys and food bowls arriving with an animal should be thoroughly washed with soap and water and left to dry in the open air.
  • Handover should take place in an outdoor space large enough for the client and staff to maintain their social distance.
  • If an animal is taken from a Coronavirus infected household either bath them thoroughly and safely or they should be held in the establishment's isolation facility for three days to ensure no virus is retained on the pet.
  • During that period those pets should be dealt with after all others on the premises.
  • Animal rescue and re-homing organisations may also be under pressure from animals being abandoned and particularly if they have a stray dog contract with the local authority.
  • Boarding establishments may also wish to offer space to them. Clearly a proportion of any of those animals may not have up to date vaccinations. Veterinary practices may be able to offer vaccination if a disease and public health assessment by the vet shows it to be appropriate and social distancing can be maintained. The boarding establishment's veterinary practice should be contacted for advice regarding this. If, on assessment, the veterinary practice feels vaccination is appropriate, it may be that the risk of a visit by a vet and veterinary nurse is considered less of a public health risk than individual animals being taken to the owner's practice.
  • It is important to increase bio-security within the boarding establishment to reduce the likelihood of disease. This may be achieved by increased use of disinfectant, personal hygiene by the use of hand gel or hand washing between animals and by better separation of animals.

Home boarding

We would strongly recommend that you do not alter your coronavirus procedures at this time, due to the high COVID-19 rates in Preston & Lancashire.

  • The business handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed.
  • If an animal is taken from a Coronavirus infected household either bath them thoroughly and safely or they should be kept separately to the other dogs in the household for three days to ensure no virus is retained on the pet. During that period those pets should be dealt with after all others on the premises.
  • All admission and return of dogs should be by appointment only to ensure clients are able to maintain social distance.
  • The home boarder may collect the dog or the client may drop off and collect the dog by appointment.
  • You should only have one person dropping off or collecting their dog at a time. The owner should retain all equipment such as leads.
  • The home boarder must wash all equipment with soap and water once the dog/ have left.
  • Dogs should be walked on a lead locally, maintaining social distance from other people and pets.
  • Dogs may be allowed off lead in a secure safe area such as a park or enclosed field.

Dog day care

We would strongly recommend that you do not alter your coronavirus procedures at this time, due to the high COVID-19 rates in Preston & Lancashire.

  • Dogs may be collected from their home or owners may drop off and collect their dogs by appointment only, to ensure clients are able to maintain their social distance from others by only having one client on the premises at a time.
  • If dogs are brought to site owners should remain in their vehicles until staff are ready to accept their dog with a similar procedure on return. Handover should take place in an outdoor space large enough for the client and staff to maintain their social distance (2m should be adhered to where possible).
  • The business handover protocolset out by CFSG should be followed.
  • The owner should retain all equipment such as leads.
  • If dogs are collected, only those from households that are not infected or self-isolating should be collected on each trip.
  • If establishments wish to accept dogs from infected or self-isolating households they must be collected and returned separately. Such dogs should not be mixed with those from 'clear' households and must be kept in a completely separate group.
  • The vehicle must be disinfected between journeys. The entire premises must be cleaned and disinfected at the close of each day.

Dog and cat breeders

We would strongly recommend that you do not alter your coronavirus procedures at this time, due to the high COVID-19 rates in Preston & Lancashire.

  • Customers can travel to view a potential puppy, however it is recommended that visits are kept to a minimum and viewing by photograph or web links are utilised at first.
  • Puppies and kittens that are ready to be rehomed should still be delivered to their new owners by the breeder. Where this may not be possible and it is considered & reasonably necessary for welfare reasons, they may be collected. In these circumstances the collection should be by appointment only and the handover must take place outside maintaining social distance and in compliance with other safety precautions.
  • When a pet is delivered handover should take place in an outdoor space large enough for the breeder/transporter and purchaser to maintain their social distance. Whilst it is desirable to give an item of bedding with a kitten or puppy care must be taken to ensure there is no potential for transfer of virus.
  • Paperwork and other checks and documentation should be predominantly completed ahead of the meeting.
  • Prior to the acquisition of the puppy or kitten, the purchaser should be given advice on immediate care of them including what food to purchase and allowing them to settle in their new home.
  • Breeders who are considering mating a bitch or queen should ensure that they have the facility to be able to allow potential purchasers to view the litter remotely if necessary because social distance cannot be maintained and whether the offspring will have sufficient socialisation in the current pandemic.
  • They should also consider how the offspring can be safely handed over complying with the guidance above.
  • It may not be possible to vaccinate and microchip puppies or kittens during this time. Breeders and purchasers should contact their veterinary practice by telephone first for advice.
  • Where there is a high risk of infection with severe disease such as Canine Parvovirus the practice may be able to provide suitable arrangements for vaccination if a disease and public health assessment by the vet shows it to be appropriate and social distancing can be maintained.
  • The breeder's veterinary practice should be contacted for advice prior to sale. If, on assessment, the veterinary practice feels vaccination is appropriate, it may be that the risk of a visit by a vet and veterinary nurse is considered less of a public health risk than individual animals being taken to each purchaser's practice. If vaccination is undertaken the pet should be microchipped at the same time if not already implanted.

Transport

Premises may transport  animals from their home to the business premises, so long as animals from one household are transported at one time and vehicles are given a thorough disinfection between household animals.

Vaccinations

Conditions of license requires the vaccination of animals accepted into the licensed premises. However many vets are only undertaking emergency care at this time and therefore many people cannot get their animal vaccinations updated.

Therefore the Council is prepared to relax these conditions during the Covid-19 emergency. However premises must ensure they:

  • undertake a written risk assessment for the acceptance of non-vaccinated animals
  • animals are isolated (In your isolation facilities or in a separate kennel enclosure etc) from other animals at all times.

If you cannot do this, you should not board the animal.

Pet shops

These premises do not have to close and may trade as normal, but must follow CoVid Secure guidance.

Dog trainers

  • Although not a legal requirement, it is recommended that face coverings are worn by trainers and clients at indoor settings.
  • There should be no physical contact between the trainer and client or dog and social distance should be maintained at all times.
  • Owners of dogs from infected or self-isolating households pose a significantly higher risk to the trainer and should not be accepted.
  • Owners can leave their dogs with a trainer providing the business handover protocol is followed and social distancing is maintained.

Dog walking

Dog walking services may still be provided, subject to public health rules being maintained including social distancing.

The business handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed with the owner retaining all equipment such as leads. Only dogs from the same household should be walked together and any vehicle used to transport the dogs should be thoroughly disinfected between dogs.

Dog walkers should use gloves and change them between households. You are encouraged to minimise the touching of clients dogs at this time.

Dog groomers

We would strongly recommend that you do not alter your coronavirus procedures at this time, due to the high COVID-19 rates in Preston & Lancashire.

  • The business handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed and should take place in an outdoor space large enough for the client and staff to maintain their social distance.
  • Groomers can collect dogs from client's homes as long as they can disinfect their vehicle between collections. Pets from infected or self-isolating households should be collected separately from other dogs in different journeys and after pets from other non-infected households.
  • Groomers should assess whether the grooming can be delayed until the household is clear to reduce the risk to themselves and their staff.
  • Social distancing should be maintained at all times and the business handover protocolset out by CFSG should be followed with the owner retaining all equipment such as leads. Multiple dogs may be taken in at a time where a grooming salon has sufficient space to separate them and for groomers to maintain social distancing whilst working (2m should be adhered to where possible).
  • Admission and return of dogs must be by appointment only to ensure social distancing where the reception area is large enough to do so.
  • Where clients bring their dogs to the salon when possible they should wait in the car until the salon is ready to accept the dog. The reverse procedure should be used for return.
  • The business handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed. Mobile groomers may continue to operate providing that they can maintain social distancing.
  • The business handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed with the owner retaining all equipment such as leads. The grooming facility must be thoroughly disinfected between pets. Home groomers may operate providing they can maintain social distancing rules and following the Government guidance on those working in other people's homes.
  • Groomers must not visit an infected or self-isolating household.
  • All equipment must be disinfected between each home.

Riding schools

We would strongly recommend that you do not alter your coronavirus procedures at this time, due to the high COVID-19 rates in Preston & Lancashire.

  • Riding schools can reopen to the public for lessons. 
  • Organised competitions permitted for adults and children
  • Arena hire and facility hire remains closed
  • Indoor facilities remain closed, except for toilets.
  • If you are expecting spectators to attend an indoor event then you should follow the GOV.UK Events and attractions guidance.
  • We would recommend that you display a QR code or keep a register of all persons who attend your premises, although you are not legally required to do so (See FAQ's)

Please see further detailed information from the British Horse Society

Risk Assessment guidance for Riding Schools and Livery Centres

You can find information on horse vaccinations on the Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons website.

Livery yards

Livery yards can continue to allow horse owners, loaners or sharers to care for and exercise their horse. Horse riding can continue although all organised activities and competitions will be required to stop All persons visiting the Livery yard must follow social distancing guidelines. British Horse Society guidance. Essential visits for the welfare of horses e.g. farrier, vet and physio can continue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do employees and customers need to wear face coverings?

Face coverings are no longer required by law. However, the government expects and recommends that people continue to wear face coverings in crowded, enclosed spaces. Where worn correctly, this may reduce the risk of transmission to themselves and others. Be aware that workers may choose to wear a face covering in the workplace.

Consider encouraging, for example through signage, the use of face coverings by customers and workers, particularly in indoor areas where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet. This is especially important in enclosed and crowded spaces. When deciding whether you will ask workers or customers to wear a face covering, you would need to consider the reasonable adjustments needed for staff and clients with disabilities. You would also need to consider carefully how this fits with other obligations to workers and customers arising from the law on employment rights, health and safety and equality legislation.   Poster - Wear a Face Covering [544.05KB]

Do I still need to display a QR code?

Being able to identify and trace persons who maybe infectious remains a top priority for the government. Sporting venues such as Riding Schools are strongly encouraged to display an official NHS QR code poster. Although not legally required to do so, this will support NHS Test and Trace to contact those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 so that they can book a test. You can generate an NHS QR code poster online, to enable individuals to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app. You should also have a system in place to record contact details for those who do not have the app.  Test and Trace Register Template [253.4KB]

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