Doncaster health boss stands by decision to hold St Leger behind closed doors

Doncaster’s director of public health has stood by his decision to hold the St Leger Festival behind closed doors last week due to covid-19 fears.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 7:15 pm

Dr Rupert Suckling made a dramatic eleventh hour decision to ban spectators from the annual event at Doncaster racecourse after visitors had already been allowed in on the first day of the festival (September 9).

His decision meant that the remainder of the festival, including the showpiece St Leger on the Saturday (September 11) had to take place behind closed doors.

At the time, Dr Suckling said that the decision was made because he feared the event didn’t meet ten tests he had set out for it to go ahead safely.

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Dr Rupert Suckling ordered the rest of the St Leger meeting to take place behind closed doors.

Now, in a letter to the public, he has further explained his decision.

Dr Suckling wrote: "I've received a lot of feedback following my decision to instruct last week’s St Leger Festival to be held behind closed doors from Thursday onwards.

"It was definitely the right thing to do in terms of public health and public safety considerations. I did not make the decision lightly but on evidence, scientific data and thorough consideration of what was relevant to the borough. I did not hesitate to make that decision, nor would I hesitate to make future decisions that are right for Doncaster.

“As we have seen this week, numbers of cases have risen across the country and the rate in Doncaster is on the rise too. Our local rate is now more than 25 infections per 100,000 people – a few weeks ago we were in single figures.

The St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse on September 9, 2020 in Doncaster, England. As part of a pilot scheme to reintroduce the public back to horse racing following the Coronavirus Pandemic, a limited number of racegoers were admitted into the course for the first day St Leger Festival before spectators were banned. (Photo by David Davies - Pool/Getty Images)

“We can't say this rise is as a result of any particular event (as you might have seen in some media reports) but due to a range of factors and underlines the need to follow the guidance and rules to keep our distance, wash our hands and wear face coverings when required to.

“Whilst our numbers are rising, we still are faring well compared to other places in the region and the rest of England and we are not in any current risk of local lockdown.

"I am monitoring the latest information daily and will advise of any new actions or information. So please do follow advice and guidance and help us to manage our infection rates.”