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Cheltenham issues coronavirus health advice for festival racegoers

Cheltenham has released a public health notice for visitors to next week's festival
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Racegoers are being told to stay away from next week's Cheltenham Festival if they are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with coronavirus, if they have travelled through any of the high-risk countries or been in contact with anyone that has.

The number of positive tests in Britain jumped to 163 – up 48 from Thursday – on Friday, while a patient with underlying health conditions became the first person with coronavirus to die in the UK on Thursday. 

But a BHA spokesman said on Thursday the racing industry continued to operate on a 'business as usual' basis in line with the position spelled out by prime minister Boris Johnson.

The public health notice has been released by Cheltenham and reads: "Do not travel to the Cheltenham Festival if you have any of the following symptoms: a cough, a high temperature or shortness of breath AND you have been to or transitted through the high-risk countries, or been in contact with anyone that has, in the last 14 days.

"To protect yourself and others please do not travel and call NHS 111 (GB) or HSE 112 (Republic of Ireland) for expert advice. These measures are being taken in order for us to safeguard everyone’s health and wellbeing during the current public health situation. Thank you for your understanding. For more details, please visit"

Government list of high risk countries

  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Tenerife – only the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

British racing’s Covid-19 (coronavirus) steering group has been in regular contact with the government over the last two weeks to keep them informed of the racing’s industry’s developing plans and the potential impact of the virus on the sport and the industry.

Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, who chairs the Covid-19 group, said: “The government’s action plan is a good guide to how the government’s response may develop over the coming weeks and months. That’s why I’d encourage all businesses and employers working in racing to read it and consider the potential impacts on them and their staff.

“We want to do our very best to look after racing’s customers and the people who work in our industry so that we can minimise the risks to human health and the potential disruption to racing and to normal life.

Nick Rust: “We want all those involved in British racing to be as well-prepared as possible”

“We continue to encourage our customers and all those working in racing to follow the guidance from Public Health England as this is the best way to contain the spread of Covid-19.

"The employers in our industry do a great job in providing for their staff and we know that many have taken steps already in line with government guidance.

“The industry’s Covid-19 group is sharing this guidance with the organisations who represent the different parts of racing and identifying particular issues that may apply to them, whether that is for racecourses or those who breed, train and look after our horses.

“We want all those involved in British racing to be as well-prepared as possible.”

Cheltenham has revealed a raft of measures designed to combat the threat of coronavirus, including more wash basins and toilet facilities on site along with plans to make hand sanitisers readily available. Posters will also be prominently displayed with the latest public health advice.

Cheltenham's preventative measures come amid news the government could be close to moving fully to its 'delay stage', the second in a four-stage action plan to tackle the disease.

Speaking to MPs on the health and social care committee, England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said the government was "mainly" in the delay stage of its action plan to tackle the disease.

During the delay stage, the banning of large scale gatherings could be one of the measures undertaken, which would have a massive impact on racing and other sports.

Whitty said: "As time moves by, we then may start to move into the more socially determined actions . . . the kind of measures we can do to delay things which involve changes to society."

Italy is the worst-affected country in Europe with more than 3,000 cases and on Thursday it was announced England's men's and women's Six Nations rugby matches against Italy, scheduled to be played in Rome on March 14 and 15, have been postponed.

All sport in Italy, including all Serie A games, will be played behind closed doors until April 3.

A Betfair Exchange market on whether the first day of the festival is cancelled or postponed – on which more than £3 million has been matched – at 2.15pm on Friday priced the first day of the festival at 1.2 to go ahead and 6 to be off.

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Japanese meetings to be staged behind closed doors as coronavirus fears grow

Business as usual for Japanese studs despite coronavirus state of emergency

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We want to do our very best to look after racing’s customers and the people who work in our industry

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