Racing punters banned from ALL courses in England as swathes of country move into toughest Tier 4 Covid restrictions

RACING fans have been banned from all courses in England after swathes of the country moved into the toughest Tier 4 restrictions.

It was just earlier this month that tracks such as Lingfield had welcomed back punters to bet in person.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today that 23 new areas of England will be placed in Tiers 3 and 4.

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Under these rules spectators are banned from attending events in person.

A further 20 million people are now in Tier 4, which has the most severe restrictions.

Exeter and Catterick were set to welcome up to 2,000 spectators in the coming days owing to them being in Tier 2.

But they have been moved up to Tier 3 – along with Fakenham and Ludlow – scuppering hopes of crowds at Exeter on New Year's Day and Catterick on Sunday.

The areas will move into the new tiers from Thursday.

A further 50,023 new Covid cases were recorded in the UK on Wednesday as well as 981 more deaths.

Jack Parkinson, general manager at Exeter, said: "It's disappointing. We were expecting a crowd of around 500 and it's a shame for those who have been coming here for years as a tradition and now can't come.

"But we had it in the back of our minds the way the country was moving, so it was probably fairly obvious."

This is the second crushing blow to hit racing today.

Earlier it was confirmed Cheltenham's huge New Year's Day meet was cancelled due to the track being waterlogged.

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