The racing industry is taking steps to reduce the potential for the spread of the COVID-19 virus among participants and public by closing its meetings to all but essential personnel.
Race meetings across the three codes – thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds – will be conducted as “closed door” events commencing tomorrow (Wednesday, 18 March).
The only people permitted to attend meetings will be those jockeys and drivers competing at the meeting; trainers with runners engaged at the meeting; stable/kennel staff of those trainers as advised to the club; and essential race day personnel. The three codes, along with the TAB, have been working together to develop protocols to ensure racing can continue in light of the government’s recommendation regarding public gatherings of more than 500 people.
“The codes recognise that we need to act in a socially responsible manner, while at the same time protecting the ability of our stakeholders to continue to earn a living,” Peter Jensen, CEO of Harness Racing New Zealand said.
In addition to limiting personnel on-course NZTR, with the support of the NZ Jockeys’ Association, has issued a directive that jockeys must not accept riding engagements between Islands.
“We have the support of our recognised industry organisations – the trainers, jockeys and owners – along with our racing clubs to take whatever steps that we can to provide an appropriate framework to allow racing to continue. We recognise that these are extraordinary circumstances and they require extraordinary action,” New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing CEO Bernard Saundry said.
The TAB provides the critical income to sustain the livelihoods of more than 15,000 directly employed in the industry and will continue to broadcast racing on Trackside TV and on www.tab.co.nz, however it will limit its operations on courses to include minimum broadcast operations and no on-course bookmakers or Tote services provided.
“The key priority for the three codes is to ensure the wellbeing of all of our staff, participants, supporters and the community, as well as our animals. To ensure we achieve this Greyhound, Harness and Thoroughbred racing are working closely together to achieve this,” Greyhound NZ CEO Glenda Hughes said.
At this stage the protocols are expected to remain in place until at least Monday 13 April.