Date is set for when horse racing fans could return to Newmarket
- Credit: PA
Horse racing fans will be welcomed back to Newmarket on May 22 in line with the government's easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the Jockey Club has confirmed.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the country's roadmap out of lockdown on February 22, with outdoor sporting events allowed a capacity of 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower, no earlier than May 17.
Should all go to plan with the government's easing of restrictions, 4,000 spectators will be allowed at Newmarket's historic Rowley Mile course for a meeting on Saturday, May 22.
A spokesman for the Jockey Club said: "We are looking forward to welcoming spectators back to the Rowley Mile and July Course in line with government guidance, and continue to work closely with local authorities to ensure we are ready to do so in conjunction with the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
"Should things continue as currently scheduled this would mean we are able to welcome spectators in limited numbers to our fixture on Saturday, May 22."
It is understood there are no planned pilot events scheduled at Newmarket prior to May 22.
Newmarket, which is widely regarded as the home of horse racing, will have taken a significant economic hit due to fans not being allowed at race meetings since the Covid pandemic began.
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It is estimated that horse racing boosts the town's economy by around £240million each year.
The world famous Guineas Festival, which normally brings thousands of people to the town, will have no spectators in 2021 when it takes place on May 1 and 2.
Last year's event was postponed in May due to Covid-19, but did later take place in June - with no fans.
The Jockey Club, which runs 15 racecourses around the country, said the pandemic has cost the organisation around £90m so far.
A spokesman said: “The pandemic cost the Jockey Club around £90m in revenues in 2020 through a combination of the period with no racing and then the bulk of the rest of the year with no spectators.
"This negative financial impact continues into 2021 with the pandemic still with us and no spectators being able to attend race days currently.”