New lockdowns announced but racing to continue behind closed doors

Racing is to continue in Britain despite the announcement of new national lockdowns in England and Scotland.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday evening that a third national lockdown would be imposed in England, saying the new Covid-19 variant – which is 50 per cent to 70 per cent more transmissible – was spreading in a “frustrating and alarming” manner.

“As I speak to you tonight, our hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic,” he said in an address to the nation.

“I know how tough this is, and I know how frustrated you are and I know you have had more than enough of government guidance about defeating this virus, but now, more than ever, we must pull together.”

The first national lockdown in March saw all professional sport suspended, with racing able to successfully recommence on June 1 behind closed doors and under strict protocols.

It has continued since then among the tiered restrictions in place across the country, and the British Horseracing Authority confirmed that would remain the case.

Racing resumed at Newcastle on June 1 behind closed doors under strict protocols
Racing resumed at Newcastle on June 1 behind closed doors under strict protocols (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

A statement from the BHA read: “Following this evening’s broadcast, we can confirm racing will continue behind closed doors during the upcoming national lockdown.

“Attendance will be limited to those essential to the staging of fixtures and strict adherence to British racing’s Covid-19 protocols will continue to be required for all who attend.”

Earlier in the day a lockdown was announced in Scotland by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, but Scottish Racing – the body which represents Ayr, Hamilton Park, Kelso, Musselburgh, which is due to race on Thursday, and Perth – moved to allay any fears.

A tweet from Scottish Racing read: “Following today’s announcement that Scotland is to re-enter full Covid restrictions, @ScotGov has confirmed that racing in Scotland can continue behind closed doors.

“Only individuals essential to staging the fixtures should attend race meetings and are required to continue to follow the strict protocols already in place.

“Unfortunately, no owners will be permitted to attend a racecourse until further notice.”

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