A horse-riding school is apprehensive about its future, holding concerns it may lose its prized national accreditation after one of its specialist interstate contractors was forced to enter hotel quarantine.
Like many small businesses around the country, Junction Farm Equestrian Academy, which has about 90 students and is located at Carrick, was forced to close its doors earlier this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
Now, following a surge of interest in its offerings after coronavirus-related restrictions were gradually relaxed in Tasmania, the riding school once more faces the disheartening prospect of shutting up shop.
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But Junction Farm owner Marcus James said this time the state government's quarantine assessment process was to blame.
Mr James and his partner Eleanor had commissioned the services of Dianne Jenkins, described on her website as an equine performance specialist, to work on their horses - a job Junction Farm employs her to do three times a year.
With Mr James' assistance, Ms Jenkins, from Sutton in New South Wales' Southern Tablelands region, applied for an essential worker exemption through the government's G2G PASS system.
However, after a number of failed applications, she flew into Tasmania on Sunday, August 16 without having been granted a quarantine exemption. She is currently more than halfway through a 14-day quarantine period at Country Club Tasmania.
Mr James said there was no-one else in Tasmania who could carry out Ms Jenkins' work and she was only available for a limited window of time. This has stoked anxiety at the equestrian academy, with fears that it could lose its coveted Pony Club of Australia accreditation - which demands high standards of animal welfare and performance - as a result of the job not being done.
"[Ms Jenkins] is an internationally recognised practitioner of a specialised muscle and back veterinary therapy," Mr James said.
"The horses are getting grumpy, they're not happy. It's not a good environment.
"We have had to remove five horses from active duty due to welfare and safety, and are at risk of removing more and closing close down the school without access to treatment."
The struggling riding school will now have to pay $2800 for Ms Jenkins' hotel quarantine fees.
Ms Jenkins has submitted another application to be exempted from hotel quarantine and to instead be given permission to isolate on the farm in her own facilities without needing to have contact with other people. A decision on the application is yet to be made.
A government spokesperson said Premier Peter Gutwein's office was aware of the riding school's application and the State Control Centre was handling it.
Meanwhile, an SCC spokesperson said details of individual applications could not be provided but added that every application from a specialist interstate worker needed to provide supporting information to "demonstrate that the skillsets are time-critical and not available in Tasmania".
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