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Irish races: expected to return to phase three of government roadmap
By Brian Sheerin
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar underlined the enormous importance of running for the Irish economy on the day it was announced that the resumption of sport was brought forward from 29 to 8 June.
Varadkar also said the Irish races were to be aligned with their British and French counterparts in a speech to the nation on Friday.
The races were due to return to phase three of the government’s roadmap, which outlines the phased reopening of businesses and social activities, but Horse Racing Ireland was successful in its proposal to bring it back one step.
HRI has refined its submissions over the past two weeks and Varadkar called the industry a âbig economic sectorâ in his speech.
Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
“title =” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left): “It’s a big economic sector with lots of jobs and income” “class =” js-imageLoader “data-at-xn =” https: // www. rp-assets. com / images / news / 2020/05/15/78480-medium.jpeg “data-br-n =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/05/15/78480-medium .jpeg “data-br-m =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/05/15/78480-large.jpeg “data-br-w =” https: // www .rp-assets.com / images / news / 2020/05/15/78480-large.jpeg “data-br-xw =” https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/05/ 15/78480-large.jpeg “onclick =” return false; “>
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left): “It’s a big economic sector with lots of jobs and income”
Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
He said: “Horse racing was never specifically mentioned in the plan we agreed to in April, but it is now. Horse racing, behind closed doors, will be allowed to continue from June 8th and that only takes into account what’s happening in the UK and France. “
Varadkar added: “It is a big economic sector, a lot of people are employed there and it brings almost half a billion euros to the economy every year. Because people will not be able to make it to meetings. of race, the number of movements going will be limited.
“These are basically people going to and from their place of work. It will not be open to spectators for the foreseeable future, but it is a big economic sector with a lot of jobs and income. We have to be. more or less aligned with what is happening in the UK and France in this regard.
The return of the Irish race
Some of the new protocols that will be applied when matches restart behind closed doors in Ireland include:
- Only key personnel will be permitted to attend
- All participants will undergo a health check in advance and a thermal temperature check on arrival – anyone with an elevated temperature will be refused entry and will be asked to see their GP.
- Mandatory wearing of face coverings for participants, including jockeys, trainers, medical professionals, security personnel and those working indoors
- Social distancing will be strictly enforced by a dedicated Covid-19 protocol manager for each meeting
The decision to move forward into a phase was taken at a cabinet meeting on Friday afternoon after HRI’s proposals were approved by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Thursday.
It is understood that, among its revisions, the governing body was to specify in more detail to what extent closed-door races would be able to meet the various health measures involved in social distancing, contact tracing and service numbers. at the Track.
Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon, who fought in the corner of the races in the Dail on Wednesday, welcomed the decision to advance the races by the government.
He said: “The decision to bring forward the date for the resumption of horse racing here is to be welcomed and is recognition of the strengthened Covid-19 protocols put in place by Horse Racing Ireland for closed door racing.
âThe government, in consultation with the chief medical officer and his team, must strike the right balance between putting the country back to work while ensuring that it does not undo all the progress the public has made in flattening the Covid curve to date,â which has prevented a sharp increase in our hospitals and prevented many more deaths from the virus. “
Heydon added: âAlthough great sacrifices have been made by players in the racing industry and many other sectors of the economy, these sacrifices have been necessary as part of overall public health measures. I also understand the really big impact these sacrifices have had not only on the horse racing industry, trainers, owners, jockeys and racetracks, but also the repercussions on the sales and breeding industries. of horses.
“This is why I fought for an earlier horse racing resumption date than Phase 3 on June 29. Such a delay for us as racing has already resumed in France and the UK in early June would have been devastating to the racing and ranching industry here, employs over 29,000 people, with most of those jobs in rural Ireland and many of them in County Kildare.
Heydon went on to acknowledge that many industry players were hoping for an earlier recovery date, but relied on the increased clarity provided by the government as a positive for the races.
He concluded: “While I know many in the industry would have liked an even earlier recovery date, the clarity surrounding today’s Cabinet decision allows all in the industry to now plan for a recovery date. resuming races safely with more certainty. “
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FIRST PUBLISHED AT 2:04 PM, MAY 15, 2020