It could have been even more were it not for the reality gap between what is allowed, and what is financially viable. “Legally we would be allowed to start having race meetings in England from March 29th and others may do so, but the fact is that with overnight stays not strictly allowed and no B&Bs or campsites open until April 12th, we’ve decided not to ask our members to make that call.”
Spectators will have to wait longer, even than that. “As things stand we will be able to welcome spectators back from May 17th, up to 50 per cent of venue capacity or 4000 people, whichever figure is lower. One of many things we learned fast last year was how to provide the public with a Covid-secure environment and we’re proud of all we’ve done.”
“There is a balance to strike: on the one hand we’re there to keep people safe, not behave like the military police, on the other whatever we do has not only to comply with regulations, it’s got to pass the sniff test too. I believe people will remember how companies behaved during Covid and I think the corporate reputations of those that were slack or cut corners will suffer. Throughout it all, BARC really has done its best to look after our customers, competitions, officials and suppliers.”
So how big has the hit been? “Big,” says Taylor reaching the balance sheet. ‘Turnover last year was down 50 per cent.’ Horrendous though that is, it’s actually slightly less than I expected. But after June 21st, if vaccine-resistant variants can be kept beyond our shores, all existing rules should be relaxed or removed and things should return to something close to normal, at least in England.
Sadly the situation in Wales is nothing like as promising. The Welsh lockdowns hit venues like Pembrey and Anglesey far harder, resulting in them hosting no race meetings at all in 2020 and with no clear picture of when restrictions will lift, the situation is currently dire.