Cheltenham Festival with no regulations for the next few years – those days are gone!

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  • Quote: ‘Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool’s Champions League match v Atletico Madrid contributed to the increase in coronavirus deaths in UK’

By Andrew Atkinson

Cheltenham Festival’s behind closed doors meeting is set to be in place for another few years, according to Covid-19 expert Professor Tim Spector.

The 2021 Cheltenham Festival in March will not see a recurrence of 250,000 spectators attending the four day meeting in 2020, due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The four-day 2020 Cheltenham Festival went ahead – a week before the UK went into lockdown – despite calls for it to be postponed.

Claims the mass gathering most likely helped accelerate the spread of Covid-19, along with other sporting events, including Premier League and Champions League fixtures.

Spector, Professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said some changes to large gatherings are likely to be in place – for ‘the foreseeable future’.

“I can’t see us suddenly having another Cheltenham Festival, with no regulations again. I think for the next few years those days are gone,” he said.

“I think we should still continue to do the easy things, keeping our distance from each other in public, masks, handwashing etc, these things don’t cost really anything to do.

“We need to get used to that, and that will allow us to do the things we really want to do more easily and more readily,” he said.

Addressing infection rates as seen in his Zoe Covid Symptom Study UK Infection Survey, he said: “We’re moving towards where rates are generally much lower everywhere, we’re seeing about one in 170 people on average affected.

“I think around one in 250 would be where I start to become more comfortable, but it also depends on the context at the time and things, like hospitals and death rates as well.

“I don’t think we should be fixated on any one particular parameter – we’ve got to look at the overall picture.”

As the UK emerged from the peak of the pandemic’s first wave in April 2020, Sir David King, the Government’s chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007, said the Cheltenham Festival could have helped to accelerate the spread of coronavirus.

In May last year, Professor Spector said Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool’s Champions League match against Atletico Madrid, attended by about 52,000 people at Anfield, contributed to an increase in coronavirus deaths in the UK.

He said the events had caused increased suffering and death, that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred.

The UK Government and the racing industry said they followed the advice available at the time. Cheltenham said it was not possible to know how, or where people had contracted the virus.

The post Cheltenham Festival with no regulations for the next few years – those days are gone! appeared first on Horse Racing News and Tips.

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