Three meetings at in France next week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
At Compiegne, Monday’s jumps card and the Wednesday fixture on the Flat will have no paying customers, with the order coming from the mayor of Compiegne and the president of the Compiegne Racing Society.
It is a similar story at Chantilly, where Tuesday’s programme will not be open to the public.
Racing professionals will be admitted as normal. The move is the first of its kind for the sport in Europe, but meetings in Japan and Hong Kong have been affected in a similar fashion.
Regarding Compiegne, a spokesperson for France Galop said: “This is not a national approach. It is an initiative limited to the municipality of Compiegne.”
The authority tweeted the news on Saturday evening concerning Chantilly – which is around 30 miles from Compiegne – and its closed-doors fixture, a decision made “at the request of the Chantilly town hall and the Oise Prefecture”.
Horses from France are due to run at the Cheltenham Festival, which begins on March 10.
Giving its latest position in relation to coronavirus, the British Horseracing Authority stressed there currently remained “no need to develop a policy” in relation to the abandonment of any specific fixtures.
A statement read: “The industry group continues to liaise closely with government and plan for a range of contingencies.
“We would encourage everyone in racing to focus on the government’s advice on personal health and their advice to employers and businesses. These are the actions that in the view of public health experts are the most important at this stage.
“Speculation about potential actions from government or racing, whilst wholly understandable in the circumstances, may simply distract from the advice on which the population is being asked to focus.
“At present racing continues as usual and the sport remains in agreement that there is no need to develop a policy regarding abandonment of any specific fixtures due to coronavirus at this time.
“We will continue to speak to government and should a situation arise where this is required then the sport has established mechanisms in place for handling such scenarios.”
Some major sporting events have already been affected with Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Italy called off and the Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in April, already cancelled.
It was revealed on Saturday a further three patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 23.
Two of the patients had recently travelled back from Italy while the other had returned from Asia, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said.
The three cases – one in Gloucestershire, one in Hertfordshire and another in Berkshire – are being investigated and any individuals who had contact with the patients are now being traced.