Coronavirus: Irish horse racing to continue behind closed doors

Thurles racecourse
Racing is among the few sports in Ireland to continue amid the coronavirus outbreak

Racing in Ireland is set to continue behind closed doors despite coronavirus and after fixtures in Great Britain were suspended until the end of April.

However, Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has introduced further restrictions because of coronavirus, including a maximum of one meeting a day.

HRI said its decision was taken to "maintain employment and incomes for people working in the industry".

It was also "on the basis of being able to achieve and maintain HSE advice".

Since last Friday, five meetings in Ireland have been held behind closed doors with access to the racecourse limited to a number of key personnel such as stable staff, jockeys and trainers, and strict protocols around social distancing and sanitisation.

Under the new HRI restrictions racehorse owners will not be allowed to attend meetings while medical facilities will be made available for government use, and with the situation to be reviewed on a daily basis.

Measures also include no evening meetings and no double meetings in order to reduce the demand for medical resources and no overseas runners will be permitted for the time being in Irish races.

"These are unprecedented and sombre times and we are seeking the best ways to support the racing community and industry throughout what lies ahead," said Nicky Hartery, chairman of HRI.

"Health and welfare of employees and industry participants is the prime consideration and within that context - we have introduced protocols which can allow racing to continue and thousands of families who rely on the sector to maintain a livelihood.

"This will be kept under review on a daily basis and we are also planning measures for reprogramming fixtures as it becomes required. "

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