No hugs, no high-fives... but can I get a beer? New rules on racecourses
With news that 35 of the 51 racecourses in England are in the Tier 2 areas of coronavirus risk, many loyal racing fans will be preparing to return to the track for the first time in more than eight months.
The Racecourse Association has published a detailed set of operating protocols for tracks to implement, meaning that spectators will have some unfamiliar habits to adopt.
Here we walk you through the protocols from getting a ticket all the way to collecting your winnings.
Can I go racing?
Racecourses in Tier 2 (there are none in Tier 1) are allowed to cater for a limited number of spectators. If you are resident in a Tier 3 (very high risk) area, the guidance is not to travel outside your locality and risk the further spread of the virus. Entry will be denied to anyone travelling from a Tier 3 postcode and you must not attempt to go racing if you have any Covid-19 symptoms.
What do I need to do before I go?
No tickets will be available on the gate and many racecourses may give priority to annual members. Members of the general public must purchase tickets in advance and provide full contact details for every ticketholder. For Lingfield's fixture on Wednesday, prospective racegoers must go to the course's website to purchase tickets.
While a crowd of up to 2,000 is a possibility for that fixture, a crowd of less than a 1,000 is expected at Ludlow with the crowd limited to 600, which does not include owners.
What should I expect when I arrive at the course?
Spectators are urged to use private transport where possible. You must wear a face mask or covering on entry and throughout your stay on course, except while you eat or drink. You may have your temperature checked before being allowed in and you could be asked other health questions at the gate.
What are the sanitary requirements on course?
As well as keeping your face covered throughout your stay, you should observe 2m social distancing with anyone not in your immediate ticketing group and adhere to the rule of six. Ensure you sanitise your hands regularly, don't touch your face and throw away all used tissues. You should not gather in groups other than the people you booked your ticket with. Avoid face-to-face contact with other spectators and avoid hugs, high-fives and any contact with people not in your social bubble.
Where can I go on course?
Racecourses will have clear signage when it comes to one-way systems, where to go and not to go, as well as a host of stewards and officials to direct you. Make sure you keep access points clear and that nobody is walking towards you before you go through a door or into a confined space.
What do I need to know about eating, drinking and betting?
Racecourses have changed their layouts in a number of ways to comply with Covid-19 regulations while racing behind closed doors, so your favourite bar or restaurant may have been temporarily re-purposed. Much of what is available is likely to be outdoors. Some racecourses may choose to operate on a bank or credit card-only basis. On-course bookmakers and Tote betting facilities will be allowed to accept cash. There is no specific guidance about consuming alcohol, but under Tier 2 regulations the sale of alcohol is only permitted in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants as part of a 'substantial meal'.
At Lingfield owners will be able to sit down inside and enjoy a three-course meal, and there will also be an area inside where racegoers can have a substantial meal. Tea, coffee and other refreshments will be available. If inside, you can only sit with people within your bubble.
Can I go racing in Scotland or Wales?
The devolved governments in Edinburgh and Cardiff have different regimes in place to measure coronavirus levels, and as such racecourses under their auspices have yet to be opened up to spectators.
Racecourse Covid-19 Code of Conduct
- Where possible, please travel to the racecourse in private transport
- Do not travel to the racecourse if you have any Covid-19 symptoms OR if you live in a Tier 3 postcode, as entry will be denied
- Observe all 2m social distancing protocols at all times, whether inside or outside the racecourse
- Face coverings MUST be worn at all times, whether inside or outside, except when eating or drinking
- Please comply with any health checks that may be required on entering the racecourse
- Be aware, your temperature may be taken on entry
- Some racecourses may choose to operate a cashless event. On-course bookmakers may accept cash
- Please use only the designated smoking areas on-course for cigarettes and e-cigarettes
- Regularly wash your hands, use hand sanitiser and avoid touching your face and dispose of any used tissues appropriately
- Do not remove hand sanitiser or other personal hygiene products from their locations
- Do not congregate in specific areas of the racecourse (for example, along the rail or by the winning post)
- Make sure all walkways, corridors and doorways etc are clear before you walk through
- Avoid face-to-face contact with other spectators and avoid hugs, high-fives and any contact with people not in your social bubble
- Follow all signage and the instructions of staff, officials or any emergency service personnel present at the racecourse
- Do not try to access areas of the racecourse apart from the area detailed on your ticket
- Make sure other members of your group have read and understood these guidelines also
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