Horseracing in Britain has been suspended until the end of April, the British Horseracing Authority [BHA] has confirmed today.
The new measure - which will come into effect from tomorrow [Wednesday] - will see all action across Britain cease for at least six weeks.
The authorities had attempted to allow action continue with restrictions in place and no crowds allowed, but they have now adopted a new approach.
In a statement released this afternoon, the BHA said it took the decision "based on the statements made by the government yesterday and after consultation with senior industry leaders."
— BHA Press Office (@BHAPressOffice) March 17, 2020
Speaking today, chief executive of the BHA Nick Rust 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 the 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.
“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 in the national effort to fight this virus. And we can support racing industry participants and staff as they face up to the personal challenges ahead and care for their own families.
“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 the thousands of participants and staff who dedicate their lives to caring for animals. We need to do what we can to support businesses inside and outside racing and the many people whose livelihoods depend upon this £4 billion industry.
“We are in constant contact with government which understands the very significant consequences of this decision for jobs and businesses. We will work with them to do our best to manage the impact.
“Racing leaders will keep today’s decision under constant review and endeavour to keep all customers, participants, staff and dependent businesses informed as the situation progresses."
In Ireland, racing continues behind closed doors with meetings today [Tuesday] at Down Royal and Wexford.