MHC UPDATE: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 3:30pm
COVID-19 & MORE CLARIFICATIONS FROM MDA FOR STABLE & HORSE OWNERS
First, we at the Horse Council want to say that we understand how stressful a time this has been. We have been getting tremendous feedback and questions from our recent posts. Many have expressed appreciation for our efforts to share the latest information. Some have expressed anger at MHC.
Just to be clear, the information we have shared is not information that the Horse Council itself developed, mandated or interpreted.
The Horse Council is a private, membership-based trade association for the horse industry in Maryland. We are not a government agency and have no regulatory or enforcement power. The information that we have received and have shared with the equestrian community is from the Governor’s office and from the Maryland Department of Agriculture. This information is evolving, and we have tried to share it with you as soon as possible after we receive it, as a public service.
We have continued to communicate with MDA, sharing the questions and concerns of our community. In response, this morning, Wed. March 25, the MDA has shared these modified guidelines regarding horse operations:
"1. The statement put out by MDA/MHIB yesterday was approved by the Governor's office. The points made in that statement are considered guidelines and not law. The law is no more than 10 people in a gathering or on a farm at one time and to practice social distancing of 6 feet from another person.
2. Farm owners/operators decide who is considered essential staff. That can include exercise of horses. Exercise of horses is considered recommended care. However, if the farm owner wants to exclude all people from his/her property that is their right, including full care boarders if they regard them as non essential. If they regard them as essential care, they can allow them on, but they must practice social distancing and no more than 10 people at one time."
The Horse Council is also sharing this information from the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel about interpreting the Governor’s order #20-03-23-01 in Interpretative Guidance COVID19-06:
"At this time, the Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) recommends that the Administration interpret the above-referenced Order as follows:
• Staff Access to Non-Essential Businesses. The Order requires businesses, organizations, and facilities to close to the general public. This does not prohibit staff from being on-site as reasonably necessary for the purposes listed below, if this can be accomplished in a manner consistent with all applicable guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), the Maryland Department of Health (“MDH”), and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”) regarding social-distancing and environmental cleaning and disinfection:
• Caring for live animals"
The Governor's Office of Legal Counsel further advised:
"This Interpretive Guidance maybe revised or rescinded at any time. Citizens are urged to consult with their own legal counsel for advice about the application of the Order and this Interpretive Guidance to their particular facts and circumstances.”
The Maryland Horse Council urges farm and business owners to consult with their legal counsel and insurance carriers about potential liability for claims by clients or staff that might result from exposure to COVID-19.
For your reference, our previous communications can be found here:
March 23 on mdhorsecouncil.org and equiery.com: "ESSENTIAL COVID-19 INFORMATION FOR MARYLAND’S HORSE COMMUNITY,” regarding the State of Emergency from Governor Hogan.
March 24 update: on mdhorsecouncil.org: ESSENTIAL COVID-19 INFORMATION FOR MARYLAND'S HORSE COMMUNITY
The March 24 update provided a link to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s interpretation for the horse industry of the Governor’s updated State of Emergency.