Update: The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed it will suspend all horse racing events until the end of April.
Horses to race behind closed doors
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) decided this week that horse racing in Britain will now take place behind closed doors. Fears over the aggressive spread of the coronavirus have led to spectator-free racing, at least until the end of this month.
spectator-free racing, at least until the end of this month
Horse racing has continued to take place in England despite the virus. The Cheltenham Festival ran last week with a record attendance of more than 251,000 people within a four-day time frame. For now, scheduled meetings should continue, but these will be minus the crowd of fans.
No spectators allowed
According to the BHA, some events will continue as planned while others may be canceled. The Grand National is supposed to take place on April 4. Any updates to the meeting will be provided once they are decided on by the group in consultation with the government.
The first meetings affected by the no spectator rule will be Taunton and Wetherby. On top of the meets being fan-free, restrictions are in place on how many people can be in attendance.
A BHA statement read: “Any fixtures that take place in England, Wales and Scotland, initially until the end of March, will take place without spectators and with restrictions on the number of attendees.”
Protecting public health and businesses
According to BHA chief executive Nick Rust, the restrictions were decided on as a way to limit attendees so that demand for public services would be lessened. Measures are also in place regarding the government’s public health guidance. As changes are made, the horse racing industry will adapt.
a balance between public health protection and continued business activity
Rust also commented that the BHA recognizes that the restrictions will impact businesses, including hotels and restaurants. He pointed out that the BHA is following the advice of the government to create a balance between public health protection and continued business activity.
Irish politicians against Cheltenham racegoers
The announcement by the BHA comes not long after politicians in Ireland spoke out against those who attended the Cheltenham Racing Festival in the UK last week. Thousands of racing fans from Ireland head to the event each year.
While many events in several nations have been canceled due to the COVID-19 virus, efforts to stop the Cheltenham Festival fell through. The opening day saw over 60,000 racegoers in attendance.