Tuesday afternoon’s cabinet meeting saw the government pause the intended move to phase 4 in the reopening of the country, with the numbers permitted to attend outdoor events remaining at 200.
That 200 limit has permitted the successful return of horse racing and a number of other equestrian disciplines, alongside the likes of GAA and Football on a behind closed doors basis, and while all of the committees who sought an autumn fixture did so based on the potential of the race meeting taking place on a similar behind closed doors basis, there is hope that the crowd limits will have been eased by the start of the point-to-point season.
The season opening fixture at Ballingarry, which takes place on September 19, is still over six weeks away with the cabinet and NPHET to review the decision once again later this month when it is hoped that the planned move to an increased limit of 500 people in attendance at outdoor events would allow point-to-point fixtures around the country to once again welcome spectators through their gates.
The IHRB will be providing the 36 point-to-points that are set to take place this autumn with further guidance on the social distancing measures that will need to be implemented when the season gets underway with the publication of protocols specifically for point-to-point fixtures.
As part of this planning the IHRB have already announced important changes to the submission of passports, and released the closing dates for hunter certificates in order to allow horses to run on the opening two weekends of the expanded autumn season, as preparations begin to intensify.