Mandatory COVID-19 testing for Weighing Room entry is to end earlier than scheduled, following the confirmation of changes to self-isolation rules in England.
Those working in the Weighing Room from today, Thursday 24 February, will no longer be required to present evidence of a negative lateral flow test prior to entry.
The adjustment to racing’s timetable for easing restrictions reflects the reduced business continuity risk to the industry from changes to self-isolation requirements and the downward trend COVID-19 infection data.
Regular self-testing will still be encouraged. Anyone testing positive for the virus will be advised to stay at home, in line with government guidance, until they can demonstrate evidence of negative tests.
Access to the Weighing Room will continue to be restricted to essential personnel, while existing infection control measures within the complex will remain in place for the time being to help minimise the risk of transmission.
While self-isolation rules have changed in England, people living, traveling or working in Scotland and Wales should continue to follow the legal requirement to self-isolate and wear face coverings indoors, as mandated by the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
Commenting on the changes to racing’s plans, BHA Chief Medical Adviser, Dr Jerry Hill, said:
“Throughout the pandemic, we have endeavoured to make evidence-based decisions that protect our people and safeguard the industry against COVID-19-related disruption.
“In recent months, testing for Weighing Room personnel has been a crucial part of this strategy and I’d again like to thank everyone for their continued patience and cooperation.
“Changes to self-isolation rules, together with promising signs in infection data, enable us to bring forward the end to mandatory testing – although testing on a voluntary basis is still recommended.
“As emphasised previously, COVID-19 still exists, so please continue to do what you can to reduce your own risk and prioritise the health and livelihood of others.”
British racing has today outlined plans for easing the remaining COVID-19 raceday restrictions, which would see Weighing Room testing requirements lifted by the end of February.
Under racing’s provisional timetable, agreed by the industry’s COVID-19 Group:
- From Monday 28 February, Weighing Room attendees will no longer be expected to show evidence of a negative lateral flow test prior to entry.
- From Monday 14 March, racecourses will no longer be required to configure the Weighing Room complex for the purposes of COVID-19 infection control.
These changes are possible due to encouraging trends in both the national data and our own pre-raceday testing, together with anticipated government announcements on self-isolation requirements – all of which help reduce the business continuity risk to racing.
Weighing Room access will continue to be restricted to essential personnel only. Anyone testing positive for or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should not enter the Weighing Room complex until they can demonstrate evidence of a negative test.
Regular self-testing with lateral flow devices will still be encouraged for all Weighing Room personnel and raceday attendees, as will completing a full course of COVID-19 vaccinations, including the booster jab. This will help protect raceday workers and further reduce the risk of COVID-19 related disruption.
Racecourses are also advised to consider how best-practice improvements such as increased ventilation, additional personal space, and enhanced environmental hygiene can be factored into longer-term planning around changing room arrangements to protect against other respiratory infections.
Announcements from the UK and Scottish Governments on the easing of COVID rules, anticipated for early next week, are unlikely to delay racing’s proposed timetable, but the final plans will be considered in line with government publications.
Commenting on racing’s prospective timetable, BHA Chief Medical Adviser, Dr Jerry Hill, said:
“It is with cautious optimism that we are able to publish a provisional timetable for the removal of the remaining racecourse mitigations, starting with the testing requirement for Weighing Room entry.
“We are satisfied that the data continues to move in the right direction, and that with the UK Government likely to rescind the legal obligation to self-isolate, the risk of COVID-related disruption is further diminished.
“This decision is only possible thanks to the continued efforts of industry colleagues both on and off the racecourse, who have prioritised the health, wellbeing, and livelihood of others. It is through your collective efforts that we have thus far managed to avoid interruption to the racing schedule.
“We will of course continue to monitor the situation over the next few weeks. COVID has not gone away, and therefore racecourse attendees should continue to exercise the necessary vigilance: vaccination and regular testing are still highly advisable.”