As English racing prepares for the return of full capacity crowds from Monday, racecourses have issued some guidance and a number of requests to racegoers, including being vaccinated against coronavirus and taking up the government's offer for free lateral flow tests before attending a racecourse.
The British Horseracing Authority and the Racecourse Association will not yet be introducing a Covid-certification system, but are working with the department of culture, media and sports to put the framework in place in the event that such a measure is needed.
The Scottish and Welsh Governments have announced their own rules, and racegoers are advised to check with racecourses in Scotland and Wales to ensure they understand the variations and differences in key dates.
The BHA likewise on Thursday shared its updated Covid-19 Guidelines and Operating Procedures that will be applied to British meetings from Monday. The weighing room will remain a strictly controlled area in order to mitigate the risks of virus spread to personnel and a subsequent disruption of racing. Virtual declarations remain in place with trainers asked to register a member of stable staff as a primary contact. While registration remains required for jockeys, trainers and guests may return to pre-Covid entry arrangements.
David Armstrong, chief executive of the RCA, said, “We thank all our racegoers for the responsible behaviour they have shown since they were able to return to racecourses, and we are very excited to welcome back all racegoers from Monday in England and later in August in Wales and Scotland. As an outdoors event, people can have confidence in attending a race meeting in safety. Nevertheless, we encourage all to continue to follow the recommended advice and in particular to check on any restrictions that are still in place in Scotland and Wales. The safety of our racegoers will always be our top priority.
“We continue to liaise with our colleagues from other major sports and local and national authorities to ensure we are all operating to the highest levels of public safety. That includes planning for a system of Covid certification should that be required.”
The BHA's chief medical adviser Dr Jerry Hill said, “Racing has demonstrated throughout the pandemic our ability to conduct race meetings safely and sensibly, with participants adapting quickly to new processes and following rigorously the infection control measures in place. While the full return of spectators and the further easing of restrictions is welcome, with cases continuing to rise, racing must do what we can to protect our people and industry, especially against the ongoing risk of 10-day self-isolation for close contacts of infected individuals.
“The best way to bolster protection is through vaccination, accompanied by regular lateral flow testing, but we will also retain some measures on course to help protect those participants working in higher-risk indoor areas, particularly the Weighing Room Complex.
“As ever, I want to thank everyone for their adherence to the protocols and continuing to behave responsibly on course. Avoiding disruption to the racing industry must remain our utmost priority, and everyone can play their part in this respect.”