The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) released a statement to Equestrian NSW on Saturday in regards to the matter to clear up the confusion.
"(The) DPI has received several requests from animal owners to clarify whether or not certain animal transport is considered a reasonable excuse to leave home under the Public Health - COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement - Order 2020 - the order," a DPI spokesperson said. "Under the order, a person must not, without reasonable excuse, leave home.
"Animal Health Australia has a variety of information available to assist animal owners deal with COVID-19," the spokesperson said.
"In NSW animal owners and carers have an obligation under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTA) to provide food, water, shelter and veterinary care to their animals. In addition the owners of some animals must meet prescribed standards of care under POCTA, the Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986 and the Animal Research Act 1985."
So, on to the big question - am I allowed to leave my home to go horse riding? The short answer is yes.
"The NSW Government has issued guidelines allowing people to go outside and exercise," the spokesperson said. "Undertaking exercise, including riding a horse or walking a dog, is a reasonable excuse to leave home.
According to the DPI any form of exercise is to be undertaken in compliance with the Public Health Orders, meaning that people must not participate in groups greater than two persons at any point in time.
"You can enjoy daily exercise, walk animals and spend time among nature, but it's important to follow current health orders and stay in your local area when you do go out."
You may leave home to transport a horse, dog, cat or other companion animal:
- to meet your legal obligations to care for an animal and ensure its welfare,
- for your exercise, provided you stay in your local area,
- to sell or transfer physical ownership of an animal,
- to relinquish your animal to a shelter or pound.
Reasons for leaving home to care for an animal and ensure its welfare includes:
- to obtain veterinary treatment for your pet
- to return your pet to its original location after obtaining the treatment referred to above
- to relocate your pet that cannot be provided with adequate feed, shelter or care to a place where these can be provided
- to surrender your pet to an animal welfare organisation, licensed fauna rehabilitation group or pound
- to transfer ownership of pet animals