Huge blow for racing fans as Boxing Day's King George chase at Kempton forced behind closed doors

RACING fans have been dealt a huge blow with Kempton's Christmas meet – including the King George chase on Boxing Day – forced behind closed doors.

The Surrey track falls under the new Tier 3 restrictions imposed on the county.

No spectators are allowed at sporting events under the measures.

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Ascot's meeting this Saturday is also to be run without punters after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the areas under the tightest restrictions in the Commons today.

He warned: "Everyone has a personal responsibility to play their part.

"We've come so far – we must not blow it now."

Racing fans were devastated at the development, with the Kempton meet traditionally attracting tens of thousands of punters and the King George one of the biggest races in the calendar.

One said: "Terrible news."

Another wrote: "Absolutely ridiculous."

While a fellow racing fan said simply: "F*** Tier 3."

Another comment read: "2020 the year that keeps on giving, Christmas ruined already and its not even the 18th of December yet."

A string of areas including Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Peterborough in addition to Surrey will be bumped up into the top level of restrictions.

Today's changes move around five million more people into Tier 3 at 12.01am on Saturday – facing a near lockdown in all but name.

In the South East of England, cases are up 46 per cent in the last week alone.

Mr Hancock added: "Where we've seen the virus get under control and come out of Tier 3, it's where everyone has taken responsibility on themselves to make that happen.

"We've seen case rates fall across large parts of England, I know many places in Tier 3 have seen rates reduce.

"But in most places we are not quite there yet."

More to follow.

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