First past the post

by Webmaster, 18th February 2021

Chester racecourse hopes to be the first in the country to welcome back spectators this May

Crowds of people coming together to enjoy a sporting event is ingrained in British culture and has been sadly missed since the start of the pandemic. So the announcement that Chester Racecourse is planning to allow up to 5,000 visitors over their annual three-day meet in early May has been met with much jubilation amongst horse-racing fans. 

By harnessing the latest Covid testing technology, spectators may be able to enjoy the Boodles May Festival from the 5th to the 7th May, so long as they show a negative Covid test on arrival. The proposal would see 1,800 lateral flow tests performed per hour at three separate sites at the course, with racegoers given staggered arrival times to avoid congestion.

The racecourse organisers already have experience of working in a similar capacity, as the site became a mass vaccination centre from February 15th. The centre is expected to deliver thousands of Covid-19 vaccines every week to residents across the area in key priority groups as part of the national vaccination programme. It will operate seven days a week by appointment.

“We were really keen to ensure that our local area could benefit from a mass vaccination centre and are very pleased to be able to support the NHS with their essential vaccination programme,” says Richard Thomas, Chief Executive of Chester Race Company.

“Meanwhile, in anticipation of the Government’s road map announcement, we have been working very hard with local authorities to build a clear operation procedure plan that hopefully could allow us to safely welcome back a limited number of spectators for the Boodles May Festival.

“The delivery of mass on-site testing is at the core of our stringent health and safety measures. Chester Racecourse could provide on-site testing facilities for 5,000 attendees per day with results expected in less than 20 minutes.

“We’re proud of our innovative approach here at Chester and are keen to be one of the first venues to be able to bring crowds back safely to live sport.”

Social distancing will also be introduced, including designated seating areas for everyone, with all-weather cover, giant screens to ensure everyone is able to get close to the racing and even personal bookmaking facilities. Contactless order and collection points for food and drink would also be implemented across the course, with staggered arrival and departure times for guests, multiple testing areas and a one-way system.

Before plans are confirmed, they would need approval from the British Horse-racing Authority and to fall within Government guidelines. 

For tickets for the May festival, keep an eye on the latest announcements at

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