Spectators to return to racing across the whole of Britain next week

04 Jun 2021 BHA Features

Racegoers are now able to return to racing across all three nations in Britain after the Welsh government announced that the public can return to Welsh sporting events from Monday.

The first race meeting after attendance rules are relaxed is due to be held at Chepstow on Friday 11 June. Spectators returned in England and Scotland on 17 May.

Each nation has different limits on the number of spectators permitted to attend:

  • In England, it is currently 4,000, with the pilot event at Royal Ascot permitted to allow 12,000;
  • In Scotland, the limits are currently 250 at Ayr, 1,400 at Hamilton, with 500 allowed at Musselburgh, Perth and Kelso (where the season has now finished). These limits can be varied by agreement with the local authorities;
  • On Monday 7 June, Wales will move to alert level one and Welsh racecourses will be permitted to welcome up to 4,000 spectators.

British racing’s leaders are focusing their attention on the next step in the UK Government’s roadmap which is due to take place on 21 June. The RCA and the BHA have been in constant contact with government in recent weeks.

The Government is not expected to confirm until 14 June whether it will go ahead with Step 4 on 21 June and it has not decided what guidelines will apply to sporting events from this point.

The Chief Executive of the RCA, David Armstrong, said:

“The government said when it published the roadmap that it wanted COVID restrictions to be lifted from 21 June at the earliest, but it has also said repeatedly that it wants to proceed with caution.

“Racing is pushing hard for the maximum attendance at race meetings from that point and to remove the current rule that has a lower limit for outdoors sports compared to those that take place in stadia with ticketed seating. Our venues have very significant outdoors space, where transmission rates are lower, allowing spectators to be distributed over large areas.

“We may not find out what the guidelines are until a week before this change comes into effect but will be ready to reconfigure racecourses depending on decisions made by national and local authorities, who license each event.”

The Chief Executive of the BHA, Julie Harrington, said:

“I’m very positive about the ability of racing to take place safely as we’ve demonstrated throughout the long period of racing behind closed doors. I have been able to make that point directly to ministers and am delighted that Royal Ascot has been selected as a pilot event.

“We are now awaiting the government’s review of social distancing rules, which need to be relaxed if we are to welcome back more spectators from 21 June.

“There is a lot of speculation in the media, but the government has told us no decision has yet been made. We are working closely alongside other elite sports to seek clarity from government at the earliest possible moment. There are a number of major sporting events shortly after 21 June, such as the Euros, Wimbledon, the Open Golf and the British Grand Prix.

“We thank all those owners and spectators attending racing at present for their patience in bearing with restrictions and look forward to the day when these can be safely removed.”

Notes to editors:

1. Plans set out in February for British racing’s easing of lockdown restrictions, aligned to the Government roadmap, can be read here.