A horse welfare charity has made the difficult decision to keep its doors closed for the rest of the year.

World Horse Welfare has confirmed that its four rescue and rehoming centres - including the Glenda Spooner Farm in Somerton, Somerset - will remain closed to the public until February 2021.

Roly Owers, CEO of the charity, said: “We so very much want to be able to welcome everyone back, but we need to put the safety of our staff and the public first.

"While we love having visitors on site, without doubt this adds additional risk in terms of keeping our Centres ‘Covid-secure’.

"The protective measures we would need to put in place would also inevitably involve taking valuable time from the yard and Visitor Centre staff to ensure measures were being followed.

"As we have recently been able to start rehoming our horses again, our yard staff are busy once more with rehabilitation work.

"The charity’s priority over the coming months has to be the rehabilitation and rehoming of our horses as each horse that is rehomed makes a space available for another animal in need.

"With all four farms currently at full capacity, making space available for the large number of welfare cases expected later in the year is vital.”

Another challenge is that the measures needed to ensure social distancing and high levels of biosecurity would limit the number of visitors that could be welcomed at any one time and, when balanced against the additional costs, would make opening far less viable.

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