Chelmsford reopens doors to spectators as riders get Covid jabs on-site
Officials at Chelmsford have expressed their delight after welcoming back the first crowds of the summer on Tuesday evening.
Tracks in England have been able to admit spectators since May, but Chelmsford remained behind closed doors until Covid-19 restrictions were eased on Monday as it wanted its vaccination centre to remain at full capacity.
"We wanted the public back in such a way where they weren't too hamstrung by additional requirements," said the course's manager Fraser Garrity.
"We capped it at around 600 who thoroughly enjoyed themselves and we still encouraged them to use their personal discretion, wear face masks inside, use the hand sanitisers and to check in with the track-and-trace app if they wanted.
"We didn't want to do walk-up admittance for the first fixture, but we'll do that for our next fixture; it was about coming back in a cautious way and we just wanted a smoother day operationally, which we achieved."
Chelmsford next races on August 3 when more than 1,000 people are expected to be on track, although the potential introduction of vaccine passports for large events from October 1 could provide another headache.
Garrity added: "I would reflect the position of the Racecourse Association, which is that it's a big logistical issue and our understanding, as things stand, is that it would be a manual process, but I think that's evolving.
"There's no doubt there'll be a lot of head-scratching how that's done, particularly at the biggest events."
Garrity went on to hail the "brilliant job" done by staff at the on-site vaccine centre and said a number of riders had jabs at Tuesday's meeting, something the Professional Jockeys Association urged its members to do last week.
"I think about 25 jockeys got vaccines after racing," he said.
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