Your key questions answered as full crowds are allowed back to tracks in England
For the first time since March 2020 spectators in England are able to attend the racecourse under conditions as close to normal as possible, following the UK government lifting restrictions which have been in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Below we lay out what you need to know to make sure your day at the races is as enjoyable and stress-free as it can be.
Are all the tracks easing restrictions or just a few?
All racecourses in England will be permitted to have crowds up to their usual levels, with caps on numbers – either 4,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is smallest – ending. However, some racecourses are taking a more cautious approach to reopening and steadily building up to full capacity. Racing will also continue to take place in Scotland and Wales but restrictions, such as maximum attendances and mask wearing, remain in place in these countries.
What do I have to do before I get to the races?
With restrictions being relaxed the requirements that spectators had to undergo to attend the races have also disappeared. It is no longer necessary to book tickets in advance and no Covid-19 screening questionnaires or testing are needed. That said, the Racecourse Association (RCA) and the BHA have asked those going to the races to consider taking a lateral flow test to confirm they are not infected with the virus. Anyone with the symptoms of Covid-19 – a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, and/or loss of taste and smell – should not go racing, nor should anyone self-isolating. Additionally, racegoers can make their way to the course via any means possible, with public transport and travelling with others acceptable.
Do I need to have been vaccinated or have proof of immunity?
No. Vaccination confirmation or proof of a negative lateral flow test are not needed to gain entry to the races. In terms of the future, RCA chief executive David Armstrong said last week that conversations were continuing with other sports and officials to ensure public safety, including "planning for a system of Covid certification should that be required".
Can I use cash on the racecourse?
Yes, but tracks are encouraging the continued use of card for ticket, food and beverage purchases where possible – particularly at venues operated by Arena Racing Company and Jockey Club Racecourses. On-course bookmakers and Tote facilities are accepting cash.
Where can I go when I am at the racecourse?
The experience for any racegoer should be similar to what it was before the pandemic struck. Spectators will be able to go to the paddock, the winner's enclosure and to any stand or area their ticket allows them. The weighing room is out of bounds for all bar a select few people – such as jockeys, valets and medical staff – with the BHA aiming to reduce the likelihood of transmission of the virus between participants in an enclosed area.
Do I have to wear a mask or socially distance?
No. Mask wearing is advised by racecourses when indoors or in crowded areas, but there is no obligation to do so. Social distancing is not required either, although spectators are being asked to be respectful of others and of officials if requested to make space. All those attending meetings are also being encouraged to check in via the NHS Test and Trace App, but it is not essential.
I have a runner at the races this week, what do I need to do?
Limits on the number of owners who can go to watch their horse run have been removed, with ticket levels reverting to their pre-pandemic numbers. Owners are being asked to continue booking their places through the PASS system, but tickets can be collected at the course rather than printed in advance. Masks are no longer necessary in the paddock or winner's enclosure.
I cannot wait to get back racing – what big meetings are coming up?
Glorious Goodwood takes place from July 27-31, with the Shergar Cup meeting at Ascot being staged on August 7. The Ebor meeting at York runs from August 18-21.
Are tickets available for Monday's meetings and can I buy on the day?
Yes they are, and yes you can. In fact, the three tracks racing in England on Monday, Cartmel (1.20 - 5.15), Windsor (5.35 - 8.40) and Beverley (5.45 - 8.50), are proactively encouraging walk-ups. The situation in Scotland is slightly different with Ayr (1.00 - 4.30) limited to 1,000 racegoers – the increase from 500 has not been enough to stop the meeting selling out – while in Ireland they race at Ballinrobe (4.20 - 7.25), where restrictions mean just 500 are allowed on course, with a limited number of tickets available through the track's website.
When are restrictions being relaxed in Scotland, Wales and Ireland?
Most Covid-19 measures are being lifted in Wales on August 7, although masks will still have to be worn in indoor spaces. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she hoped the country would be able to move beyond the level zero restrictions, which come into force on Monday and limit the number of spectators at sports events and require masks still to be worn, on August 9, although this will continue to be monitored. In Ireland, a maximum of 500 individuals are allowed on a racecourse at present.
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