The Board of Horse Racing Ireland has announced that horse racing will continue to take place but behind closed doors, starting at Dundalk this evening (Friday March 13) up until March 29.
It follows Government advice issued this morning to contain the spread of Covid-19, including an instruction to limit external gatherings to less than 500 people.
After consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and with industry stakeholders, Horse Racing Ireland has imposed a number of restrictions on race meetings between today and March 29 to ensure that less than 500 people are on site at each race meeting.
These measures will take immediate effect, with the situation being kept under review.
The restrictions are: Race meetings will be closed to the public with recommended social distancing measures implemented on track; Access will be restricted to essential service providers and industry participants; There will be no catering services, on course bookmakers or Tote services provided; One groom per runner declared will be admitted to the racecourse; One owner per runner will be admitted; Only trainers of horses running at the meeting will be admitted; All participants will be asked to vacate the racecourse after their horses have run; Racing will continue to be made available to broadcasters as at present.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: "It is important that horse racing acts responsibly and plays its part in the efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19. That is why we are announcing, with immediate effect, that horse racing fixtures in Ireland will continue between now and March 29, but will be run behind closed doors with very restrictive access. Racemeetings will not be open to the public, in line with measures taken by other international racing jurisdictions, such as France, Hong Kong, Japan and Dubai.
"Public health is the number one priority and these restrictions will continue be kept under constant review as we liaise with our colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Health.
"The restrictions which we are announcing today will limit social interaction but will allow a vital rural industry to continue to operate, protecting livelihoods and jobs."
The offices of Horse Racing Ireland will remain open during this time and working from home arrangements will be facilitated wherever possible.