FOUR thousand people are expected to attend York Racecourse as it welcomes back guests for the first time since 2019.

Face coverings will be the fashion accessory of the day on Saturday when the dress code will be relaxed under step three of the recovery roadmap, said racecourse spokesperson James Brennan.

Cashless payments will be accepted, silver service will be offered in the hospitality areas rather than ‘the grand buffets’ of previous events, and one-way systems will be in place.

James stressed: “The simple message is we want it to feel as normal as possible but we are making sure we are observing all the required protocols.”

He said: “We will be limited to a crowd of 4,000 on Saturday. It is ten per cent of what we might get on a big summer Saturday. There will be loads of space for people to come and enjoy the day.”

Entry is by pre-booked tickets only; people will not be able to turn up on the day.

As reported, York Racecourse abandoned plans to stage a Covid pilot exercise which would have allowed up to 17,000 racegoers to attend the Dante Festival earlier this month, with areas of no social distancing and free flow movement.

“Sadly, because of the regulations, we are not able to open the picnic enclosure in the middle,” James told The Press.

“We hope all of that will come as we get clarification around what and, sadly indeed, when step four is going to happen.

“The bulk of the crowds on Saturday will be made up of our annual badge holders who have been great supporters during the last year, the owners, and the people who kindly booked for the equivalent day last year and then rolled over their ticket.” James said Saturday’s meeting would welcome back the first crowds since October 12, 2019.

“That was the last date a paying customer crossed the threshold.”

Protocols on the day will include wearing masks inside buildings, except when eating or drinking, along with one-way systems and safety ‘hands, face and space’ reminders.

“While the formal dress code is relaxed for these meetings under step three, some people might want to have an eye on the weather, and the fashion accessory of 2021 is the face covering.

“If people can remember those to wear as required, they will be able to toast a winner and drown a sorrow in a cashless manner if they prefer.

“We are looking forward to the Music Showcase in July and the Ebor Festival in August which we hope will be under an even lighter touch of restriction than we are having to operate at the moment.”