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In a blow to Irish racing, the seven-day Galway Festival will be held behind closed doors if it goes ahead as planned.

The Festival is due to kick off on July 27, but with the Irish government announcing on Tuesday mass gatherings of more than 5000 people will not be permitted up to the end of August, there will be no crowd at the track under coronavirus protocols.

The meeting usually employs 1500 staff for the week and generates around STG 54 million ($A105m) to the local economy.

“In light of the evolving situation regarding Covid-19, for public health and safety reasons Galway Race Committee has reached the difficult but unavoidable decision that the 2020 Galway Races Summer Festival will not be able to take place as an event open to the general public this year,” Galway general manager Michael Moloney said.

“It may prove possible to run the Galway Races behind closed doors, dependent on government policy and the approval of Horse Racing Ireland and Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board.

“This would be for the benefit of the racing industry, our valued partners and our television audiences at home and internationally.”

As in Britain, fixtures in Ireland are suspended and will only recommence behind closed doors when authorities are advised it is safe to do so. The last of 10 meetings held under those conditions in Ireland took place at Clonmel on March 24.

All mass gatherings in Ireland have been restricted since March 24 and further health advice will be updated before May 5.

 
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