EXPERTS have warned that big race meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival will not have full crowds for "the next few years".
Last year's Festival was the last major racing event to go ahead with a full-house on each of the four days.
But punters desperate to get back to the Festival in 2022 could be in for a nasty shock according to Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London.
Spector told Times Radio: "I can't see us suddenly having another Cheltenham Festival with no regulations again.
"I can't see us having massive weddings with people coming from all over the world.
"I think for the next few years those days are gone."
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Prof Spector also suggested that basic infection control measures – including social distancing, face masks and hand sanitising – should remain in place for as long as possible.
He continued: "I think we need to get used to that and that will allow us to do the things we really want to do more easily and more readily."
Racing was shutdown for a little over two months in the spring of last year but has continued uninterrupted since June 1.
Most meetings have been held behind closed doors, though Doncaster was the first to stage a pilot meeting with racegoers in September.
A handful of fixtures allowed crowds in December, including Cheltenham, but this year's Festival is expected to go ahead without punters in attendance.
The meeting regularly attracts crowds of 250,000 across the four days.
The racecourse and government were criticised for allowing the Festival to go ahead last year as the pandemic was beginning to take hold in Britain.
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