Arrangements could be put in place to help Newbury race alongside vaccination service

Discussions between Newbury and the British Horseracing Authority could lead to the racecourse continuing to act as a vaccination centre on days when racing takes place.

Since last Thursday the Berkshire track has been used as a Covid-19 vaccination hub, providing up to 1,500 jabs daily. The service was temporarily halted due to the jumps fixture on Wednesday afternoon.

A BHA spokesperson said: “The BHA supports the idea that the vaccination service is a national priority and therefore the aim is to make arrangements which allow racing events to take place alongside the vaccination rollout where possible.

“We would consider any such proposal from Newbury and work with them on possible arrangements for future racedays.”

Newbury said in a statement on its website: “When the NHS first approached Newbury Racecourse to use one of the grandstands as a local vaccination centre, they were made aware of our scheduled racing meeting on Wednesday, January 20 and all future fixtures. It was also made clear that under the BHA and government guidance for elite sport with our current layout, the vaccination centre could not operate on live racedays.

“We understand the NHS considered this carefully and given the centre is not providing vaccinations to the public seven days per week, they have planned their vaccination programme accordingly to work around the two racedays we host in the next 42 days.

“Following the success of the first week of the vaccination centre with positive feedback from patients, we now have an established operational model that the NHS wish to use moving forward. As a result, we are now able to approach the BHA to see if an exception can be made to the regulations for future racedays, allowing the vaccination centre to operate alongside racing if required.”

Jumps racing took place at Newbury on Wednesday
Jumps racing took place at Newbury on Wednesday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

It added: “Newbury Racecourse is extremely proud to play a small part in the fight against COVID-19 capitalising on the abundance of space we have to offer and have played a role throughout the pandemic as a community hub, acting as a Primary Care Unit during the first lockdown and operating a Meals on Wheels service to some of the most vulnerable and elderly in the area.

“Together with West Berks NHS, the local GP surgeries and the host of volunteers, we remain completely committed to supporting the local community and surrounding area during this challenging time.”

Newbury’s next fixture is scheduled for Saturday, February 13.

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