In a welcome boost to English’s racecourses, capacity crowds look set to return on July 19 after the government revealed on Monday evening that pandemic restrictions are set to be lifted.
A final decision on the ending of social distancing, the wearing of face masks, the negative test proof to attend events and the lifting of restrictions for sporting events will be taken on July 12.
However, Monday’s news means that English tracks are facing the prospect of seeing their courses fully filled for the first time in 16 months.
Racegoers have been on track since May at a limited capacity of 4,000 while crowds of up to 12,000 were allowed at Royal Ascot as part of the government’s test event pilot scheme.
The British Horseracing Authority’s Annamarie Phelps welcomed the news and said: “We are delighted to hear the Prime Minister’s announcement. Monday 19th July will be a significant day for all sports, and very much so for British racing.
“This news comes as a huge boost to an industry which relies so heavily on its nearly six million racegoing fans each year. A day at the races with the wonderful atmosphere generated by our racegoers is an experience unlike any other.
“Everyone involved in our sport has been looking forward to this news for the last 13 months, and worked tirelessly and with great patience to safely keep the show on the road this time.
“While racing is perfectly suited to spectators enjoying a sporting experience in a safe environment, it may remain the case that some protocols around the operation of sporting events for participants and officials remain in place in order to protect sports from the potential impact of positive cases and close contact self-isolation requirements, and permit international competitors.
“We are currently working with our industry colleagues to consider how this might apply to racing and how our racedays will therefore operate from 19 July onwards, and we await further clarity from government.
“We also look forward to spectators being permitted to return to sporting events in Scotland and Wales in greater numbers in due course, and continue to engage proactively with the Devolved Administrations on this issue.”