British greyhound racing suspended amid lockdown

24 March 2020

All British greyhound racing has been suspended after Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned all non-essential travel and gatherings of more than two people in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

The measures were announced last night (23 March) and will last for three weeks, after which they will be reviewed. All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, while people may only leave their house once per day per exercise and gatherings of more than two people that do not live in the same household are not permitted.

Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) managing director Mark Bird said that while all racing would be suspended either way, he would appreciate more clarity in the Prime Minister’s statement regarding whether work is considered a “gathering”. It had originally moved all events behind closed doors from 21 March.

“In responding to tonight’s PM’s announcement we have to suspend all racing tomorrow as this is the responsible thing to do,” Greyhound Board of Great Britain managing director Mark Bird said. “However there remains a need to clarify the government position in terms of ‘gatherings’ and ‘work’. I have contacted our contacts in Defra and DCMS and await their urgent clarification on these points.

“The GBGB has planned for this eventuality and we are ready to meet it head on. I firmly believe that the UK racing greyhound community are of the same stoic mind. Let’s remain calm and we will carry on.”

The GBGB joins the British Horseracing Authority in suspending all UK racing. Horse races were initially to be held behind closed doors, before a suspension was announced the next day.

Ladbrokes Coral operator GVC said the loss of regular horse racing - after the loss the Aintree and Ascott festivals, which had already been considered in an earlier trading update - would lead to an earnings decline of £20m-£25m.

On 20 March, Johnson ordered all betting shops and casinos in the UK to close, ith the government to review the situation every 28 days.