Ireland’s racecourses will allow a small number of spectators to watch the action live while a few UK courses are pressing ahead with bums-in-seats trial runs.
On Tuesday, the Republic of Ireland issued its latest Living With Covid-19 strategy, which at its current Level 2 will permit 200 bodies to attend live racing events. That number will rise to 500 if the country progresses to Level 1, but Irish racing could find itself back ‘behind closed doors’ if the situation downgrades to Level 3.
That 200 cap applies only if an outdoor venue has a minimum capacity of 5k, and only if organizers can ensure ‘robust protective measures’ to ensure the health and safety of those in attendance. And if the situation worsens to Level 5, racing would be forced to suspend all activities.
Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh told the Racing Post that the 200-spectator limit was “not a sustainable number for a lot of racecourses.” Even the 500 limit “doesn’t give much leeway” but Kavanagh saw a flicker of hope in the government’s vague promise to work with stakeholders on “specific guidance” for “very large purpose-built event facilities.”