UK greyhound races to continue despite new COVID-19 restrictions

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As if trying to come to grips with Brexit weren’t enough, the U.K. is also having to deal with repeated jabs to the gut by COVID-19. A new wave of coronavirus issues, fueled, in part, by a mutated form of the virus, is forcing Great Britain to increase restrictions once again. The good news is that the U.K., weathering so many major challenges at once, will emerge stronger than ever. In the meantime, different industries will do what they can to overcome the mounting obstacles and the gambling industry, already having taken a beating by COVID-19, will do what it can to survive, as well. Greyhound racing will give fans and gamblers some entertainment and distraction during the chaos, with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) promising to keep racing alive, even if behind closed doors.

The U.K. was recently forced to bring back tighter COVID-19 restrictions as new spikes began to appear. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a public address to the nation, “With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out. In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the Government is once again instructing you to stay at home. You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law.”

At the time, Johnson said that the Premier League and “elite sports” would be allowed to continue, provided they followed strict policies to thwart a spread of the virus. The British Horseracing Authority also planned on pushing forward, and the GBGB is stepping in, as well. The managing director of the group, Mark Bird, explains that it had “not been informed of any intention to temporarily halt greyhound racing,” adding via the GBGB website, “I have seen the comments being made on social media regarding the apparent pausing of elite sports by the government. There appears to be no substance to these assertions and certainly not from the government. We remain in close contact with DCMS as to any changes in government advice.” 

The Irish government acknowledged last week that greyhound racing would be allowed to continue, along with certain approved horse races and events, but that they would all have to take place with no spectator presence. While not the most ideal solution, it’s better than nothing at this point and the GBGB and the other groups can only do what they can to survive. The GBGB has already received £1 million ($1.36 million) from the government to help with that survival, but will need to be creative to overcome another prolonged COVID-19 battle.