Irish racing will resume behind closed doors on June 8 after the country’s government approved a proposal from Horse Racing Ireland to have the sport up and running prior to June 29.

Only key personnel needed to run fixtures will be permitted on racecourses where strict Covid-19 protocols will be in place, including thermal temperature screening on entry and healthy surveying in advance.

It will be mandatory for jockeys, stalls handlers, medical professionals, security staff and others present at racecourses to wear face masks, while social distancing will be strictly enforced by a dedicated Covid-19 protocol officer at each fixture.

Welcoming the decision from the Irish government, Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “We are grateful to be one of the sectors permitted to go back to work and acknowledge the responsibility on everybody in racing to ensure the events are run in a safe way.

“We know from our own experience in March when we safely ran ten meetings behind closed doors – and from what is happening in other countries like France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and America – that racing can be staged safely within the requirements of social distancing.

“With significant input from the IHRB’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Jennifer Pugh, we have strengthened the HRI Covid-19 protocols and so, while race fixtures will return in Ireland on June 8, they will be very different from what people will have experienced before.

“We will publish our full protocols tomorrow [Saturday] and will require any key personnel necessary to run a race fixture to read the document in full. There must be full compliance with these protocols and to assist the industry in becoming familiar with the changed workplace, a series of webinars on the Covid-19 protocols will be announced next week.

“On Sunday, we will release a revised fixture list up to the end of June, including confirmation on when the Classics, traditionally scheduled for this time of year, will be run.”