The Leopardstown Christmas racing festival will now take place behind closed doors.

On Monday it had been announced that the racecourse would to accommodate all who had already purchased tickets, but confirmed that new Covid-19 restrictions mean that no more tickets were to be sold for the four-day meeting from 26-29 December.

However, that will no longer be the case with owners and members only permitted to attend.

"We have seen the rising case numbers nationally and locally reflected in our staff over the past few days, a situation that has become increasingly concentrated over the past 24 hours and has forced us to make this late decision," said Tim Husbands, chief executive of Leopardstown Racecourse.

"It makes it impossible for Leopardstown to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for the general public and has led us to make the difficult call to close the festival to the general public.

"I know this will be hugely disappointing news to all of those who had purchased tickets in advance, as it is deeply disappointing to the team here who have worked so hard in putting a fantastic festival together.

"Our team will process refunds as soon as possible and will be in touch with all customers, please refer to www.leopardstown.com for more details on this process."

Husbands had said that all efforts had been made to ensure a limited crowd could attend, but ultimately it wasn't enough.

"We have managed to deploy staff from other racecourses and we’ve had colleagues from Horse Racing Ireland who answered the call and kindly volunteered to work at Leopardstown over Christmas.

"However, that still hasn’t been sufficient as we have not been able to keep pace with the volume of staff who, in particular, have been identified as close contacts. In addition, we know that our experience with cases and close contacts has been replicated in our third-party suppliers which by itself would have had implications next week.

"Thankfully we still have the staff necessary and expertise to put on four brilliant days of racing from Sunday, and can ensure industry professionals, owners, our members and our sponsors representatives, that they will be safe at Leopardstown for what unfortunately will be a pared-back festival."