The British Horseracing Authority has underlined the importance of participants continuing to follow the on-course protocols as the sport works towards the return of spectators.
In an update issued on Thursday, the BHA acknowledged the “additional challenges” presented by current restrictions, but emphasised “it is vital that racing continues to follow the protocols so that we can resume progress towards re-introducing spectators at the earliest available opportunity through the re-scheduling of pilot events”.
Chief medical adviser, Dr Jerry Hill, has asked all participants and racecourse attendees to continue to follow social distancing requirements, including not crossing designated zones for participants and owners, and notifying the BHA’s medical team in the event of a positive case.
The zoning on tracks is designed to help limit contact, with public health authorities having “made it clear to the BHA that they will consider a 14-day quarantine period for all racecourse attendees in the same zone as someone who tests positive for Covid-19”.
The BHA is keen to maintain the division, adding “if the separation of zones breaks down – for example, because people have moved from the Green Zone for participants to the Owners’ Zone, or vice versa, people in both zones may be quarantined”.
While restrictions have eased in areas such as hospitality and leisure in recent weeks, protocols in racing have remained at full force in line with specific government guidance for elite sport.
The BHA believes those tight controls must remain in place as it does “not want to be in a position which compromises our chances of reintroducing spectators as soon as it is safe to do so, or worse, requires us to take steps backwards towards the restrictions of owners attending or a further suspension of racing”.
Last Sunday, the BHA confirmed an apprentice rider had tested positive for coronavirus, with the news coming hot on the heels of the Government’s decision to extend some restrictions, forcing the last-minute cancellation of Goodwood’s pilot event which was due to allow a limited number of racegoers on course for the first time since the suspension of racing in mid-March.
The BHA update was issued on the same day trainer Gary Moore was fined £750 for contravening the Covid-19 protocols at Goodwood last week.