Could hunts be out-foxed by new restrictions?
- Credit: Andrew Atterwill
Boxing Day hunts could be out-foxed by the coronavirus for the second year running.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has said no further restrictions will be placed on gatherings in the run-up to Christmas.
But he also said the situation remained "finely balanced" and did not rule out a tightening of the rules after December 25.
Reports say new measures could be introduced after Boxing Day. Health minister Gillian Keegan has not ruled out a so-called "circuit-breaker" lockdown.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced the cancellation of large-scale Hogmanay celebrations and live sports will be ‘effectively spectator-free’ for three weeks from Boxing Day.
Similar moves south of the border would mean an end to the traditional hunt.
Boxing day falls on a Sunday, so packs across the region have this year planned their meets for Monday.
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The Countryside Alliance said: "Hunts will ensure that any government guidelines regarding the organisation of outdoor events in relation to the developing Covid situation are adhered to.
"Developments will continue to be monitored ahead of festive meets so that we can keep those wishing to attend a meet updated, and hunts will publish any guidance for followers or changes to the arrangements on their websites and/or social media pages."
The Friends of the Waveney Harriers said on its Facebook page: "Our Boxing Day meet will be held in Bungay town - As Boxing Day falls on the Sunday we look forward to welcoming everyone on Monday the 27th December at 11am.
"In the lead up to Christmas and on Boxing Day we will be collecting for our hardworking hunt staff. Buckets will be available on Boxing Day for collection or you can give directly if you would prefer."
Planned meets also include the North Norfolk Harriers at Sennowe Park, near Dereham, and the West Norfolk Foxhounds at Raynham Hall, near Fakenham.
Meets always draw large crowds, despite the controversies which have surrounded the sport since hunts were banned from pursuing foxes, hares and deer by the 2004 Hunting Act.