As Ireland mulls over whether to impose further lockdown measures, a letter published by the chief medical officer of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has suggested that Irish racing could be exempt from a level 5 shutdown.
In a letter to the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, NPHET CMO Dr Tony Holohan made a specific reference to racing being permitted behind closed doors regardless of whether a complete lockdown was imposed.
Earlier this week, Taoiseach Micheal Martin confirmed that Ireland would move from level 2 of its restrictions to level 3 – with new measures including a ban on all indoor restaurant dining.
Despite calls from NPHET to progress onto level 5 measures, Ireland is expected to stay at level 3 until 27 October, meaning a ban on both social and family gatherings as well as organised indoor gatherings.
The CMO’s letter, which advocated for stricter lockdown measures, stated that there would be an ‘exemption for professional/elite/senior inter-county/horseracing behind closed doors’ if the country were to re-enter a full lockdown.
Reported by the Racing Post, Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: “I think that is good from the point of view of NPHET confirming that. It’s all speculation at this point, but I think the key thing is that we’re showing we can run something safely and with minimal risk.”
“We’ll follow government advice all the way through. The participants in racedays have been great and we have to keep redoubling our efforts to continue racing no matter what might happen.”