Racing will lift our spirits in gloomy times of second lockdown
A little over one week ago, Boris Johnson stood up in parliament and declared that a second national lockdown in England would be "disastrous" for the country.
On Saturday evening, in the most startling U-turn in this year of startling U-turns, he addressed the nation and told us the epidemiological situation was so dire there was no alternative but to impose that disaster upon the country.
No one would envy Johnson his seismic responsibility right now. Regardless of his government's many missteps throughout the pandemic, he has faced an almost impossible challenge in balancing the need to manage the effects of a deadly virus with the no less profound requirement to protect a fragile economy, with all that entails for people's livelihoods, businesses and mental health.
There is little argument that the alarming figures of rising coronavirus cases and deaths have left the British government with few options but to take more stringent action, but, as ever, the devil is in the detail.
On Saturday night, after a torturous wait, the culture secretary Oliver Dowden delivered the welcome news that elite sport could continue behind closed doors through the new lockdown, handing an economic lifeline to racing.
The nationwide closure of betting shops will still deal racing a heavy blow, but that is nothing compared to what would have befallen the sport if it were forced into another shutdown.
The decision is testament to all those who have strived to ensure racing, alongside other elite sports, operated safely over the past five months. Since becoming the first major sport to resume on June 1, racing has been conducted under some of the most stringent biosecurity measures possible, ensuring that this great industry and sport can contribute to the economic recovery of the nation without compromising the public health.
Racing will also play a crucial role in maintaining the mental wellbeing of the nation, as well as its economic health, over the winter. Sport, after all, is more than just entertainment, it is a passion, an intellectual pursuit and a vital distraction from the gloom that surrounds us.
Racing sustains us in so many crucial ways, and never will its beneficial effects be more welcome than in the dark weeks and months to come.
Tom Kerr, editor
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