Kilkenny racing fans will welcome news that horse-racing is to resume in June
Horse Racing Ireland has welcomed the confirmation from the Government that race fixtures in Ireland can resume behind closed doors on June 8.
Only key personnel necessary to run the fixture will be permitted to be on site where they will be subject to strict Covid-19 protocols. All those in attendance will be subject to health surveying in advance and thermal temperature screening on entry.
"We are grateful to be one of the sectors permitted to go back to work and acknowledge the responsibility on everybody in racing to ensure the events are run in a safe way," said Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland.
"We know from our own experience in March when we safely ran ten meetings behind closed doors – and from what is happening in other countries like France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and America – that racing can be staged safely within the requirements of social distancing.
"With significant input from the IHRB’s chief medical officer Dr Jennifer Pugh, we have strengthened the HRI Covid-19 protocols and so, while race fixtures will return in Ireland on June 8, they will be very different from what people will have experienced before."
Among the new protocols that will be enforced when fixtures restart behind closed doors in Ireland are:
1. Only key personnel will be permitted to attend race fixtures
2. All attendees will be subject to health screening in advance and thermal temperature screening on arrival – anyone presenting with elevated temperatures will be denied access and instructed to consult with their GP
3. Mandatory wearing of face coverings for many attendees including jockeys, stalls handlers, medical professionals, security staff, those working inside etc
4. Social distancing will be strictly enforced by a dedicated Covid-19 protocol officer at each fixture
"We will publish our full protocols tomorrow and will require any key personnel necessary to run a race fixture to read the document in full," said Kavanagh. "There must be full compliance with these protocols and to assist the industry in becoming familiar with the changed workplace, a series of webinars on the Covid 19 Protocols will be announced next week.
"On Sunday we will release a revised fixture list up to the end of June, including confirmation on when the Classics, traditionally scheduled for this time of year, will be run."
Racing restarted behind closed doors in Germany on May 7 and in France on May 11, while in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong the industry continued operating behind closed doors. In Britain, the British Horseracing Authority plans to resume racing on June 1.