The New Zealand 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 will be conducted as “closed door” events commencing on Wednesday, March 18.
The only people permitted to attend meetings will be those jockeys competing at the meeting, trainers with runners engaged at the meeting, stable staff of those trainers as advised to the club, and essential race day personnel.
The three racing codes 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. In addition to limiting personnel on-course, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, with the support of the New Zealand 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 chief executive Bernard Saundry said.
In addition, NZTR will raise weights for all races by two kilograms from Friday until further notice as a measure to support the health of jockeys. 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 oncourse bookmakers or Tote services provided.
At this stage the protocols are expected to remain in place until at least Monday April 13. The key points of the Emergency Coronavirus Regulations are:
- There will be no general admission to race meetings, trials, trackwork or jumpouts. The only people that can attend race meetings will be:
- Licensed jockeys engaged to compete at the meeting;
- Licensed trainers with runners engaged at the meeting and their essential staff;
- Race day and integrity officials and staff;
- Broadcasters (Trackside);
- Limited accredited media (only as approved by NZTR);
- Persons with cold or flu symptoms are under all circumstances prohibited from attending race meetings, trials, trackwork or jumpouts;
- All jockeys with concerns about their health status must immediately contact NZTR’s Medical Advisor;
- Jockeys must not travel between the North and South Islands, or vice versa, without NZTR’s prior approval;
- For all race meetings commencing after 12:01 am on Friday 20 March, all weight allocations will be increased by two kilograms to protect jockey health.