Scottish government approves return of professional sport

19 June 2020

The Scottish government has given the go-ahead for professional sport to return in the country on 22 June after easing restrictions related to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Scotland will enter the second phase of its exit from Covid-19 lockdown today (19 June), though certain restrictions will remain in place over the weekend before being relaxed from Monday next week.

Professional sport can restart from 22 June, with Scottish Racing having already set out plans to resume racing behind closed from that date.

Ayr will host the first meeting in Scotland since 16 March, with two fixtures also set to take place at Hamilton next week, the first on 24 June and the second on 28 June.

“The resumption of professional sports is another step towards some level of normality and its safe resumption is only possible thanks to a constructive relationship between the Scottish government and bodies like Scottish Racing,” Scotland’s Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick, said.

Scottish Racing manager Delly Innes added: “This has been an immensely challenging time for our five excellent racecourses, but this is an important first step on the road to recovery, and we will be working hard to ensure all our participants are familiar with, and adhere to Scottish rules and guidance where these differ from UK guidance.”

All meetings in Scotland will adhere to specific guidelines set out by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). These include a list of people allowed to attend meetings, as well as rules on screening, social distancing and the usage of personal protective equipment.

Racing in England resumed on 1 June after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) gave the green light for professional sports to return, while Welsh racing also recommenced earlier this week.

BHA chief executive Nick Rust said: “I am very pleased that Scottish racing is returning safely from next Monday at Ayr racecourse, ensuring that our truly nationwide sport can resume in line with the protocols which have been working well since our resumption at Newcastle on 1 June.

“It is a sign of horseracing’s preparedness that we are the first major sport to return in Scotland as the recovery from Covid-19 continues.”