GBGB targets 1 June restart date for racing

The Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) will work towards a 1 June resumption date after the publication of the UK government’s roadmap out of COVID-19 lockdown.

Responding to the latest government guidance, GBGB Managing Director Mark Bird confirmed that the sport is already working towards a timetable to restart racing, beginning with a two-week trial period already mooted to start from 18 May.

Bird said: “With the release yesterday of the government’s road map to recovery, it is clear that – as we had hoped and anticipated – there is light at the end of the tunnel following what has been a long and challenging cessation of racing.

“We do not underestimate the cost to anyone across our sport, in particular owners, trainers and promoters who we know have keenly felt these measures on their daily routines and livelihoods.

“What is also evident in what is being announced, however, is that the measures for a phased return to greyhound racing announced in our policy were not necessarily overcautious and reflected the fact that the coming weeks and months will not see a rapid return to any sense of ‘normal’.

“Things will need to change – primarily at stadia, but also in the way that each trainer, owner, kennel hand, stipe and member of racecourse staff will need to act to ensure their safety and that of others.”

UK greyhound racing has been postponed since 18 March, following the UK government’s decision to implement Phase 1 of national lockdown procedures.

Reviews of both social distancing and hygiene measures are also being carried out to ensure they remain in compliance with the most up to date government guidelines.

Earlier this month, GBGB published a five-phase approach to restarting the sport, which included the steps being taken to move from hosting trial meetings behind closed doors towards the sport return to normality, subject to government guidance on social distancing and public gatherings.

Bird continued: “Assuming that the government’s five tests can be met satisfactorily between now and then, the government has set out its intentions for sporting events to begin taking place again – behind closed doors – from 1st June. We are working towards this timetable and are hopeful that, with a two-week trial period already mooted to start from Monday 18th May, everything will then be successfully in place for the racing calendar to resume from 1st June.

“As guidance continues to be released this week on ‘COVID-19 Secure’ workplaces, we will be reviewing all the social distancing and hygiene measures contained within our Operational Policy to assess their ongoing suitability. Where practices can be relaxed safely in line with the most up-to-date advice from government, they will of course be.

“We will also be keeping under review the decision not to include open racing within the first phases of our Operational Policy. This will be wholly dependent on the information released by government between now and 1st June but, recognising the comments and feedback from open race owners and trainers across the sport, we will be doing everything reasonably and within our power as regulator to reinstate open racing opportunities as soon as possible in June.”

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