Racegoers are being urged to stay away from next week’s Cheltenham Festival if they are experiencing symptoms associated with coronavirus, have travelled through high-risk countries or been in contact with anyone who has.
A public health notice has been added to the track’s latest update on the British Horseracing Authority’s administration site.
It reads: “Do not travel to the Festival if: – You have any of the following symptoms – a cough, a high temperature or shortness of breath AND – You have been to or transited through the high-risk countries, or been in contact with anyone that has, in the last 14 days.
“To protect yourself and others please do not travel and call NHS 111 (GB) or HSE 112 (Republic of Ireland) for expert advice.
“These measures are being taken in order for us to safeguard everyone’s health and well-being during the current public health situation.
“Thank you for your understanding. For more details, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus.”
British racing’s COVID 19 steering group also reminded all businesses and employers who are part of the racing industry to read the government’s action plan, published on Tuesday, and follow the appropriate guidance.
The group has been in regular contact with DCMS and DEFRA over the past two weeks and continues to plan for all phases of the government response and is in contact with the range of bodies representing different parts of the racing industry.
The chief executive of the BHA, Nick Rust, who chairs the group, said: “The government’s action plan is a good guide to how the government’s response may develop over the coming weeks and months.
“That’s why I’d encourage all businesses and employers working in racing to read it and consider the potential impacts on them and their staff.
“We want to do our very best to look after racing’s customers and the people who work in our industry so that we can minimise the risks to human health and the potential disruption to racing and to normal life.
“We continue to encourage our customers and all those working in racing to follow the guidance from Public Health England as this is the best way to contain the spread of COVID 19.
“The employers in our industry do a great job in providing for their staff and we know that many have taken steps already in line with government guidance.
“The industry’s COVID 19 group is sharing this guidance with the organisations who represent the different parts of racing and identifying particular issues that may apply to them, whether that is for racecourses or those who breed, train and look after our horses.
“We want all those involved in British racing to be as well-prepared as possible.”
The Betfair market surrounding the possibility of the Festival’s cancellation has attracted plenty of attention in recent days, with nearly £3 million traded at around 5pm on Thursday, but the fixture remains odds-on to go ahead at 2-7.
However, the firm has also opened a market on the likelihood of next month’s Grand National taking place, with the meeting an 8-11 chance to be called off.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier played down the prospect of cancelling “large events”.
Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce conference in London, Hancock said: “The science on large events is that now there is no material clinical benefit, epidemiological benefit, to cancelling events, so long as people undertake the public health measures that I’m sure you all have heard of – wash your hands and, if you have a cough or sneeze, catch it.”
Further afield, Meydan’s Super Saturday meeting this weekend will be run in front of only connections, sponsors and media, the Emirates Racing Authority has announced.
The card, which is the second most important staged in Dubai behind only World Cup night, will take place without spectators as part of measures relating to coronavirus.
Friday’s meeting at Jebel Ali and Sunday’s card at Abu Dhabi will also be without racegoers.