Horseracing will make its long-anticipated return at Newcastle on Monday after the government confirmed on Saturday that sport in England can now resume behind closed doors.

Culture minister Oliver Dowden confirmed the news in the government’s daily briefing and outlined that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is happy to move to stage three of its guidance for professional sport to return.

Dowden said: “The wait is over. Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments.

“This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions behind closed doors. It’s now up to individual sports to confirm they can meet these protocols and decide when it’s right for them to restart.

“This is a significant moment for British sport. By working with clinicians every step of the way, we’re creating the safest possible environments for everyone involved.”

Racing has been shut down since March 18 owing to the coronavirus pandemic but will now join America, Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan in conducting racing behind closed doors.

Saturday’s decision was welcomed by racing’s industry leaders and Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority said: “This is an important stage towards a complete return for our industry and will help protect livelihoods and businesses.

“The timing is crucial for the breeding sector and we thank the government and officials at DCMS and Public Health England for their assistance in planning a safe return to racing. There is still a tough battle ahead before we can get fully back in business, but this is a resilient and world-leading industry and we are ready for the task.

“Our plans for returning safely have been developed with the assistance of all the representative bodies in our sport and I believe the public can be reassured by the measures we will have in place.

“Our participants know what will be asked of them when they attend a raceday. Together, we’ll stick to social distancing rules and prevent the virus spreading.

“I’m sure the return of racing will be welcomed by all those who’ve missed the excitement of live sport and the majestic sight of racehorses running at full gallop. We hope it will lift the nation’s spirits in difficult times and look forward to seeing our owners and racing fans back at racecourses as soon as that’s possible.”