Plans for owners to be allowed back on track in Ireland from next week have been put on hold following the Irish government’s announcement it is delaying the next phase of its lockdown-lifting roadmap.
Horse Racing Ireland had intended to allow two owners per horse at tracks from Monday, with outdoor gatherings of up to 500 people permitted under phase four of the plan for reopening society and business after the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, new Taoiseach Micheal Martin has pushed the implementation of phase four by three weeks, which means only key personnel will be allowed on track during behind closed doors meetings, with masks will continuing to be mandatory for those working indoors at the racecourse, or when unable to socially distance at all times.
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “Since we resumed racing in Ireland on June 8, Horse Racing Ireland has kept tandem with the Government’s movement on the roadmap for reopening of society and susiness, and will continue to do so.
“The decision taken by the Cabinet yesterday to defer phase four of the roadmap, means we will also, regrettably, have to defer our ambition to welcome owners back to the racecourse from July 20. I understand how disappointing this will be for owners who remain our first priority to return to the racecourse once restrictions are eased.
“Plans were well advanced for this to happen from Monday next at Ballinrobe and Gowran Park, and a number of owners had already completed their online medical screening.
“However, until the number permitted at outdoor gatherings is increased by the Government to 500, only key personnel necessary to run a race meeting will be permitted on site.
“The level of compliance with the Covid-19 protocols since June 8 has been excellent and is appreciated by the Covid-19 teams in Horse Racing Ireland and the IHRB.
“It is these protocols that ensure that we are able to continue to race so it is very important that everybody continues to comply with the rules on the racecourse around social distancing and face masks, and the requirements around pre-health screening.”
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