JOCKEYS and stalls handlers are among those who will be required to wear masks under the protocols drawn up by the British Horseracing Authority ahead of the planned resumption of racing on June 1st.
The 33-page document outlines a series of measures to be employed should racing get the Government go-ahead to return to action for the first time since March.
Completion of an online education module and screening of all participants before they are allowed to attend an event form the initial stage of the protocols, with further health-related questions and temperature checks carried out before people are allowed to enter racecourses.
Social distancing restrictions will be employed, along with facial coverings for those deemed likely to need to breach the two-metre rule, including jockeys, trainers, stalls handlers, stable staff and valets.
The BHA is also planning an ongoing surveillance programme to monitor the virus in the racing communities, which will include some testing, while the sport will try to reduce the use of any medical or NHS services to a minimum, employing other health care resources, such as private ambulances, hospitals and medics, to protect the NHS.
Social distancing officers will be appointed by the BHA to ensure all measures are implemented and strictly adhered to at all racedays.
While their role is viewed as “constructive” and to “assist individuals in understanding the requirements and measures”, they will report any breaches of social distancing requirements to the stewards, who will take regulatory action in line with the powers available to them.
Trainers have also been advised to avoid entering any “difficult or ‘fractious'” horses as only two stalls handlers will be allowed as “pushers” at the start.
The guidelines have been developed in consultation with officials from Public Health England and a group of cross-sport chief medical officers, and drawn up under the direction of the BHA’s chief medical advisor, Dr Jerry Hill.
Brant Dunshea, the BHA’s chief regulatory officer, said: “Racing has been able to develop its guidelines based on our experience of operating bio-secure environments to control the spread of infection in horses, and a robust approach to regulation and enforcing the rules.
“Our trainers, jockeys and staff carry out their roles in a highly disciplined way because working with horses always carries risks.
“I am very confident they will adapt quickly to this new set of measures designed to protect them from transmission of the virus.”
The BHA states “the key principle is to act in line with government policy to protect those working and competing at race-meetings, and to reassure the wider community that the risks of spreading corona virus have been kept to a minimum”.
It further underlines “resumption is conditional upon the government agreeing that restrictions can be eased further as part of Phase Two of its coronavirus recovery strategy”.