Following a review of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s (GBGB) ‘COVID-19 Operational Policy’ racing will fast-track to phase four, which allows tracks to run unlimited races with gaps of 20 minutes.
Before the announcement by GBGB, greyhound tracks were limited to host a maximum of ten races at a minimum of 30 minutes’ gap between races (phase two). However, following the government’s relaxation of its lockdown and health regulations the board has opted to accelerate onto the penultimate phase of its five-part plan.
Paul Illingworth, GBGB Senior Stipendiary Steward, stated: “Tracks and trainers have clearly demonstrated that they were able to fully comply with the new measures in place to keep everyone safe over the course of the first two phases of our Operational Policy. We have always said that we would keep our Policy under continual review and we are pleased that we are able to move ahead of schedule.
“We have taken feedback on the Policy into account and tracks are now able to speed up the process should they wish. Individual stadia will need to take into account what works best for them, but they will now be free to stage more races within a meeting and reduce waiting times.
“Of course, there cannot be any room for complacency as we move forward and, as the requirement to wear face coverings in all enclosed spaces at the track now shows, there are new processes we will need to add into the mix as government guidance is updated.”
The decision is conditional on tracks maintaining the strict health and safety guidelines set out in the operational policy. As Illingworth alluded to, face coverings must still be used in all enclosed spaces on the track, moreover, social distancing rules will still be in effect.
Open racing will also be permitted from 29 June, with individual tracks taking responsibility for developing a schedule and managing operational capacity.
Mark Bird, GBGB Managing Director, added: “We know that trainers, owners and fans of our sport have been patiently waiting for an update regarding open racing and we are pleased to provide the green light for this today.
“Whilst the staging of opens will be a decision taken by each racecourse, we are confident that our measures and the government’s guidance are now in such a place where this can be done with minimal risk to health and safety.
“As the first sport back, greyhound racing has really flown the flag for the UK over the past week but we are proud to have done so responsibly, taking one step at a time. We know people will be eager to see the calendar for the return of open racing and the Committee is meeting later this week to discuss further details. We will of course update the industry with a schedule as soon as we are able.”
The decision is conditional on tracks maintaining the strict health and safety guidelines set out in the operational policy, with GBGB also announcing that face coverings must be used in all enclosed spaces on the tracks.