Coronavirus Caution at Cheltenham Festival
Its business as usual for Cheltenham Festival 2020, with the event set to go ahead despite a case of the virus confirmed in the town. The festival is due to start on March 10th, and will see four days of racing at Cheltenham Racecourse. The Cheltenham Festival draws thousands of visitors from around the world. Authorities have urged attendees to exercise caution with hand washing and not to attend if they are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus.
Extra Staff and Washing Facilities
Despite event cancellations in nearby Bristol and a positive case of the virus in town, Cheltenham Festival will not let the coronavirus outbreak dampen the spirit of the event. The world-famous horse racing festival is planned to go ahead as usual, but with extra precautions in place.
“We look forward to staging The Festival presented by Magners at Cheltenham next week. We welcome the government’s guidance that the business of the country should continue as usual, while ensuring we adhere to the latest public health advice.”
So far, three cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Gloucestershire, as well as one more in Bristol. The county’s third case has been confirmed in Cheltenham. People who may have had contact with the infected person are being contacted and supported by Public Health England.
In response to the global outbreak, festival organizers have put in place extra safety measures to ensure public health is not impeded. These include additional washbasins and toilet facilities, as well as hand sanitizer and paper towels. To keep things running smoothly, staff numbers have also been upped.
“Do not travel to the Festival if: you have any of the following symptoms — a cough, a high temperature or shortness of breath AND: You have been to or transited through the high-risk countries, or been in contact with anyone that has, in the last 14 days”
Festival organizers have emphasized that the “safety and welfare of racegoers and participants is paramount”. Posters will be put up around the racecourse, to remind visitors to follow public health advice from the World Health Organization and sanitize hands regularly.
“It is important that we all carry on with good hand washing and catching any coughs and sneezes in a tissue. It is also important we that we check on vulnerable neighbors to see if they need anything and continue to be responsible with our comments and actions, so as not to cause undue concern or anxiety within our communities.”– Sarah Scott, Director of Public Health, Gloucestershire County Council
While it is more traditional to bet on the horses, there has been much speculation over whether the first of the Cheltenham Festival will go ahead as planned. In fact, the coronavirus uncertainty has resulted in more than £2 million traded on Betfair over whether the event will happen.
Sports Events Affected
Cheltenham Festival is not the only sporting event that has had to reconsider its plans over coronavirus fears. Pre-match handshakes have been banned in the Premier League and the EFL. Players have also been cautioned no to take selfies with fans. UEFA will also be ditching handshakes to prevent spread of the virus.
In the UK, sports bodies and broadcasters have been summoned by the Government to discuss plans for sporting events in light of coronavirus. There are no plans to ban fans from matches yet, but it could become a possibility if the outbreak worsens.
Italy, which has been affected particularly badly by the outbreak has said that all major sporting events will be played without fans present for at least one month. In the Six Nations, England were due to play Italy in Rome, but it has been canceled. The match is unlikely to happen this season, and it is unsure whether it will take place at all. Ireland’s game against France could also be in jeopardy.
There are doubts over whether the Olympics and the Paralympics will go ahead in Tokyo this summer. They were intended to take place in July and August. Betting odds suggest that the games may be cancelled, with a probability of 56.5%. The International Olympic Committee has not pulled the plug yet though.
“We are as hopeful as we can be that Cheltenham will go ahead because we are an outdoor sport and the restrictions we have seen elsewhere are about indoor or confined spaces. We are not the same as a football match.”– Delia Bushell, Group Chief Executive, Jockey Club
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, also known as coronavirus, is a viral illness that affects lungs and airways. Symptoms include a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath. While these symptoms may indicate that someone has the virus, they are common to other illnesses such as the common cold and flu.
It is still not known for certain exactly how covid-19 spreads between people. Based on what is known about other similar viruses, it is likely to be spread through cough droplets. The World Health Organization is encouraging people to take sensible precautions to prevent further spread of the virus.
Hands should be washed frequently and for at least 20 seconds, especially after traveling between home and work. Sanitizing gel can be used in between proper access to soap and water. A tissue should be used to cover coughs and sneezes, and disposed of immediately. People are encouraged to avoid touching their face.
People who may have had contact with someone who has tested positive for covid-19, or have recently traveled from a high-risk area should self-quarantine for 14 days. This means that they should stay at home, avoid public transport and have friends or family drop off essential supplies.