Traditional Boxing Day hunts will be taking place behind closed doors this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Countryside Alliance announced that public Boxing Day meets have been cancelled and moved to more rural locations.

Thousands of supporters usually turn out to watch the traditional Maldon hunt staged by the Essex with Farmers and Union Hunt, which starts outside the Blue Boar on Silver Street.

Instead organisers are planning to move their hunting activities out of town squares and market places to a more rural location.

Polly Portwin, from the Countryside Alliance said: "“With over a quarter of a million people supporting Boxing Day meets each year, it’s a great shame that trail hunting, like so many other outdoor activities also operating in accordance with the Covid legislation, is taking place behind closed doors rather than welcoming large crowds again this Christmas.

"We want to let all the people who usually turn out from towns and cities across the country to enjoy the spectacle know that hounds won’t be in the usual public places this year on Boxing Day but that we look forward to returning in 2021, when hopefully the country will have recovered from the terrible effects of this pandemic which has had such a devastating impact."

Strict protocols have been issued by The Hunting Office to all registered hunts including risk assessments, participants details for track and trace and completing an Event Delivery Plan.