Over-70s and two owners per horse allowed from next month as Irish rules eased
The ban on over-70s going racing will be lifted on July 1 and two owners per horse will be permitted to attend race meetings in Ireland from July 20, under new fresh protocols released by Horse Racing Ireland on Thursday.
This easing of the restrictions means that top trainers Jessica Harrington and Kevin Prendergast will be allowed to return to the track for the first time since the resumption of Irish racing.
The adjusted Covid-19 procedures come following Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s announcement last Friday regarding the acceleration of restrictions being lifted, with the current health screening and temperature checking arrangements set to continue for all attendees.
From Wednesday of next week, as well as people over 70 being allowed to attend fixtures, Irish premier handicaps in Ireland will be opened to international runners, in addition to all black-type races under both codes.
One representative of associations whose attendees are permitted to be at race meetings will be allowed, as well as increases from three to five in the number of journalists and photographers given permission to be on site.
Two owners, provided they comply with pre-health screening and temperature checks on arrival, will be permitted to attend for their races from Monday July 20 onwards.
Racecourses will also at this point be allowed to nominate up to five attendees, which could include sponsors, racecourse board or committee members, and socially distanced trophy presentations for feature races.
HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "Since we resumed racing in Ireland on June 8, the level of care and compliance with the Covid-19 protocols has been excellent and is appreciated by the Covid-19 teams in Horse Racing Ireland and the IHRB.
"While we’re announcing some easing of the restrictions today, it is very important that everybody continues to comply with the rules on the racecourse around social distancing and face masks, and the requirements around pre-health screening."
He added: "We are delighted to be able to confirm today that owners will be permitted to return to the racecourse on July 20, with certain restrictions.
"Owners play a key role in Irish racing and their loyalty during this difficult period has been especially noteworthy, and from July 20 two owners per horse will be allowed to access the racecourse to see their horse run."
"We are working with racecourses around providing safe, achievable catering options for key personnel working at the racecourse and aim to have a consistent offering from July 20."
In line with current government guidelines, masks will continue to be mandatory for those working indoors or when unable to socially distance at all times.
Saunas or showers will remain closed, with an expanded weighing room space continuing to be provided. This will see a continuation of the current 2lb increase in weights across the board under both codes.
To facilitate the current health pre-screening system, 48-hour declarations will continue to operate, while safety limits will remain at a general maximum of 18 per race, or less as required for safety, social distancing or stable capacity reasons, excluding key, high-value feature races.
There will be a maximum of 20 for premier handicaps at the Curragh and normal limits will be retained for the feature handicaps at Galway, including 20 for the Galway Hurdle and 22 for the Galway Plate.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced last Friday that mass gatherings of 50 people indoors and 200 outdoors will be allowed from June 29, which could rise to 100 indoors and 500 outdoors on July 20 if the easing goes smoothly.
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