Stay safe, reduce risk, help protect our industry

01 Oct 2020 BHA Features Racecourse

A message from Dr Jerry Hill

I want to thank you for your ongoing support, understanding and vigilance in following racing’s behind closed doors protocols and helping to safeguard our people and the wider racing industry from the virus.

We have seen no evidence of transmission on the racecourse since resumption, which demonstrates that our protocols are working well and that organised, well-run outdoor events can be managed safely.

This is something we will continue to emphasise to government when evaluating our spectator pilots and ensuring that through conversations with national and local government, racing remains at the front of the queue for the return of crowds.

However, our success has come over a period where Covid cases have been at a relatively low prevalence; and with infections having risen across the country – and large areas placed in local lockdowns – racing must remain alert and continue to protect our people and our industry.

Reducing risk – for ourselves and others

The most important thing we can all do is keep our risk of infection low by staying safe, observing government guidance, and following racing’s protocols.

We’ve seen that cases are going up, not because of work-related infection, but because of transmission in people’s social lives. Racing is no exception to this. Indeed, there’s been a marked rise in the number of people contacting me to report possible cases, which is exactly the right thing to do, and I’m grateful for those who’ve been in touch.

If you are unwell, please don’t go to work. Seek advice from the NHS and get a test to check if you have the virus. It’s important to remember that if you were to become infected then, as well as putting yourself at risk, you may bring the infection onto the racecourse or into a yard, infect others and weaken racing’s excellent record of running meetings safely.

Fixtures have been cancelled in other sports after positive tests; we can’t afford to let that happen to us. It’s important that we all take our responsibility seriously.

What can we all do to help?

In general, as well as remaining vigilant in our domestic and social lives, we ask that all racecourse attendees:

  1. Follow all the social distancing requirements when you attend racing, whether in the ‘green zone’ for participants or the owners’ area
  2. Do not cross from one zone to another– this could lead to more people, including participants, being quarantined if there is a positive COVID-19 case
  3. Inform the BHA’s Medical Departmentif you test positive for COVID-19. This enables my team to talk things through with you confidentially and offer advice to individuals and employers to protect your health and the health of those around you. Please also complete the racing industry’s COVID-19 anonymous reporting form, which has been developed with Bath University to monitor cases or outbreaks to build up an overall picture of transmission within the racing industry, and assist our conversations with public health authorities to demonstrate the low risks of a racing environment.

Download the NHS COVID-19 App

Last week the NHS launched its COVID-19 contact tracing app for England and Wales. This followed the launch of the NHS Protect Scotland app earlier this month.

The COVID-19 app notifies users if they have come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. This enables the NHS to monitor where and how quickly the virus is spreading, so it can alert those at risk and ask them to self-isolate before potentially exposing others to the virus.

I believe the app has great potential for the racing industry. Short term, it can work alongside our protocols and provide an additional safeguard to reduce the risk of someone with an infection getting onto a racecourse. Longer-term, I hope it will allow us to make it a lot simpler to allow people onto a racecourse and help us resume racing with the public.

Of course, the more of us using the app, the better it will work. Therefore, I encourage you to join me in downloading it for free from the Apple and Google stores.

  • Downloadthe NHS COVID-19 App (users in England and Wales)
  • Downloadthe Protect Scotland App (users in Scotland)

The app is designed to be used by one phone per person, so for those with both personal and work phones, please remember to install the app on only one of these devices – the one you use most often and carry with you at all times.

You should also turn off the Bluetooth contact tracing whilst you are not carrying your phone or if you are working behind a screen or wearing clinical grade PPE.

And please remember, if you do get an alert notifying you that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, please let me know, either directly, or via the BHA Medical Department.

The action you need to take will depend on the timing of exposure with a positive case and I can advise on the individual set of circumstances.

We want to keep racing at the front of the queue to get the public back by maintaining our current high standards, making improvements where we can and working with public health authorities to build confidence in what we’re doing.