Paul Illingworth, GBGB Senior Stipendiary Steward, said:
“Our Covid-19 Operational Policy has been a crucial component of our ability to continue racing safely and successfully through much of the pandemic, and is something that we continue to review and update in line with the government restrictions and scientific advice.
“In recent weeks, it has been fantastic that the official guidance has meant owners and fans can return to the track and we have been pleased to support licensed stadia in opening their doors to the public again. In particular, we have been delighted to see the Greyhound Derby kick off at Towcester this week and I would like to congratulate and thank everyone involved in an excellent start to the competition.
“Under our Policy, however, we do continue to require stadia to have zoning procedures in place to avoid mixing between owners and trainers. These separate bubbles are still a fundamental measure for minimising the risk of virus transmission and ensuring that we can not only better safeguard the health of everyone at the track, but ultimately that our greyhounds can continue to race.
“I completely appreciate and understand some of the frustrations this may cause for those who wish to celebrate jointly – particularly with the Derby underway – but as we have seen this week, Covid-19 remains a significant concern across the country and now more than ever we need to remain vigilant. As such, owners with a winning greyhound are permitted to go into the presentation area to take photos with their dog and trainer but they should ensure they wear a mask and maintain social distancing.
“Every sport has had to consider, on the basis of government restrictions and the current medical and scientific advice, what is possible at the moment. Horseracing, for instance, has implemented a different zoning approach but this has been made possible by their larger estates which better facilitate social distancing and the significant differences between a trainer’s role in horse and greyhound meetings.
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to review our Covid-19 Operational Policy in line with the changing picture and after 21st June, if restrictions are lifted further, we very much hope and expect to be able to remove some of these zoning procedures.”