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Six week shutdown of UK racing


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From The Telegraph

Horseracing, just about the last bastion of professional sport still taking place in Britain, has gone the same way of all other sports after the British Horseracing Authority announced the suspension of all meetings until the end of April.

Tuesday's meetings at Taunton and Wetherby, the first held in England behind closed doors, will be the last for at least six weeks with the suspension due to come into force tomorrow. The news came less than 24 hours after the Jockey Club announced that the 2020 Grand National had been cancelled.

The BHA statement did add that the ‘decision will be kept under constant review,’ the implication being that the suspension could continue for much longer.

The decision was made at a meeting of the BHA board based on the statements made by the Prime Minister on Monday afternoon and after consultation with industry leaders. Medical advisers to the Racecourse Association and BHA were also consulted.

The dilemma facing the BHA is protecting an industry which employs 18,000 people directly and 80,000 indirectly against pulling in doctors, paramedics and ambulance staff to keep the show on the road but those are people who may be required to help the country in the fight against coronavirus.

Earlier the Point-to-Point Authority declared the 2020 season, due to run until June, over. If racing were to resume at the end of April it would be two days before the 2,000 Guineas, the first Classic of the season.

Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, said: “This is a national emergency the like of which most of us have never seen before. We’re a sport that is proud of its connection to rural communities and to local businesses that support our industry. But our first duty is to the health of the public, our customers and to racing industry participants and staff so we have decided to suspend racing following the government’s latest advice.”

He added: “Racing is a family and I know we will pull together over the coming days, weeks and months and support each other. By stopping racing we can free up medical resources, doctors, and ambulances be they private sector or NHS, to assist the national effort to fight this virus.”

Touching on a potential horse welfare issue of owners, trainers and sponsors go out of business, he said: “There will be difficult months ahead for many of us. We need to focus now on ensuring that we can continue to look after our horses as the virus affects thousands of participants and staff who dedicate their lives caring for animals. We need to do what we can to support businesses inside and outside racing and the many people whose livelihoods depend on upon this £4 billion industry.”


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Lockdown was what turned things around in China. We don't have known community transmission in NZ yet. The sensible thing is to slow down any transmission to spread the load on our public health system, which could not cope if it arrives here in our flu season. Closing borders (and deporting idiots), social isolation and personal hygiene can mitigate the impact significantly.

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