THE delay to the easing of Covid restrictions, as announced by the Government yesterday (Monday, June 14), will have knock-on effects for sporting fixtures around Chester.

The Prime Minister confirmed that the initial proposed date of June 21 for the easing of all remaining Covid restrictions would be delayed by at least four weeks, due to the increasing threat of the Delta variant, which now makes up about 85 per cent of confirmed Covid cases in Cheshire West and Chester.

It means what is now being touted as 'Freedom Day' in England will be no earlier than July 19.

As a result, organisers of local sporting events are now assessing the situation, with outdoor sporting events expected to remain at a maximum capacity of 4,000 spectators, or half-full grounds (whichever is the lower number).

Chester Racecourse, in the immediate aftermath of the Government's announcement, posted on Facebook: "Following the latest Government announcement, we are looking into how this will affect our upcoming fixtures at Chester Races.

"There’s no need to contact us directly, we will be in touch with everyone who has a booking as soon we have an update."

Chester Racecourse is due to host the Clogau Ladies Evening on Friday, June 25, the Matthew Clark Summer Festival on Saturday, June 26, the Boodles Ladies & Gents Evening on Friday, July 9 and the City Plate Day on Saturday, July 10 – all fixtures which now fall within the four-week delay.

Ticket sales for the June 26 and July 10 fixtures are now suspended on the Chester Races website, although it is expected these events will still take place with spectators allowed to attend.

At Cheshire's Oulton Park circuit in Little Budworth, Tarporley, one of its biggest fixtures of the year is now expected to go ahead with a limited number of spectators.

Circuit owners Motorsport Vision (MSV), in a statement, said: "Following the Prime Minister's announcement that Step 4 on the roadmap will be delayed by four weeks, we have temporarily taken the following race event off sale: 25-27 June – British Superbikes at Oulton Park.

"We will provide further information to ticket and season pass holders in the coming days. Anyone affected will be contacted directly - please do not call or email our office in the meantime unless your enquiry is urgent. As it stands, no other events are affected by this news.

"MSV's range of activities will continue to operate as per current arrangements.

"Ticket sales for events must be purchased in advance to guarantee admission. Season and resident pass holders may need to notify us in advance if they plan to attend selected events - if this is the case MSV will create an online portal and notify pass holders as early as possible.

"A range of physical distancing measures will be in place across the site, including grandstands. You must not attend in a group of more than 30 people. No public camping will be available, unless stated otherwise on the event page.

"We anticipate that from July 19 all limits on the number of race event attendees will be removed. The vast majority of our major race meetings are now scheduled to take place after this date."

The British Superbike Championship usually sees tens of thousands of spectators at Oulton Park, and it is expected capacity will be limited to 4,000 spectators, despite the significant spectating space available.

The British Superbike Championship will be making a second visit to the Cheshire circuit from September 24-26, when it is hoped all restrictions will be eased.

Chester FC are currently scheduled to have one home fixture during the new Covid restriction schedule, a pre-season friendly against fellow fan-owned phoenix club Bury AFC on Saturday, July 17.

Supporters will be able to attend the game, but it is expected the Deva Stadium's capacity will be limited.