Racing in Ireland to go ahead behind closed doors until March 29
Horse Racing Ireland on Thursday announced that racing will take place behind closed doors starting at Dundalk on Friday evening until Sunday March 29, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement follows government advice issued on Thursday morning by Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadakar that schools and colleges would close in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of HRI, said: “It's important that horseracing acts responsibly and plays its part in the efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19.
"That's why we are announcing, with immediate effect, that horse racing fixtures in Ireland will continue between now and March 29th, but will be run behind closed doors with very restrictive access.”
Kavanagh added: “Race meetings will not be open to the public, in line with measures taken by other international racing jurisdictions, such as France, Hong Kong, Japan and Dubai.
“Public health is the number one priority and these restrictions will continue be kept under constant review as we liaise with our colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Health.
“The restrictions which we're announcing today will limit social interaction but will allow a vital rural industry to continue to operate, protecting livelihoods and jobs.”
Access will be restricted to key industry practitioners at fixtures over the next fortnight and there will be no catering services, on course bookmakers or Tote services provided at these meetings.
The restrictions include one groom per runner declared and one owner per runner, while only trainers of horses running at the meeting in question will be admitted.
All participants will be asked to vacate the racecourse after their horses have run. Racing will continue to be made available to broadcasters as at present.
Varadkar has announced measures to combat coronavirus, which will take place from 6pm on Thursday to March 29, that will see schools, colleges and other public facilities close.
He said indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled, while people are being encouraged to work from home where possible.
A first death in Ireland from the Covid-19 virus was recorded on Wednesday.
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