COVID-19 Update - Face masks

Racing Victoria (RV) wishes to advise of an update to the biosecurity protocols in place in Victoria to allow for the safe continuation of racing and training during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protocols, which are developed in accordance with all current Government directives, guidelines and advice, serve to protect the health of industry staff, participants and the wider community; maintain 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs; and ensure daily care and exercise can be afforded to all thoroughbred racehorses.

The protocols are continually reviewed based on risk analysis, industry compliance, participant feedback and the broader community landscape.

Following consultation with industry stakeholder groups, RV has today announced that protocols pertaining to face masks will be updated as follows:

Face Masks - General

From Thursday, 23 July 2020, the wearing of face masks is compulsory at all times at all Victorian race meetings for all attendees excluding jockeys (refer following).

RV will continue to facilitate the distribution of single-use face masks to participants and officials upon arrival at each race meeting. Alternately, participants may choose to wear their own masks or face coverings, provided they remain on at all times.

From Thursday, 23 July 2020, the wearing of face masks by licensed participants, service providers and staff will be compulsory at training centres and Licensed Premises located within areas in which Stage 3 restrictions (or higher) are imposed. Currently this applies to metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

Face masks are recommended for those attending training centres located outside areas with Stage 3 restrictions (or higher) in instances where individuals cannot maintain 1.5m between themselves and others at all times.

Face Masks – Jockeys (Raceday)

It has been determined that it will be compulsory for jockeys to wear a face mask at all times on raceday, excluding during the conduct of a race unless a rider seeks to exercise their discretion to do so. 

To achieve this objective, customised face masks have been ordered that will allow riders to pull them down in the starting stalls and back up following their race should they not wish to have them affixed during the conduct of the race.

As these customised face masks – which will ensure the safety of rider and horse is not compromised during a race – may not be available until the commencement of the new racing season on 1 August 2020, interim measures will be implemented.

Under the interim measures effective from Saturday, 25 July 2020 at all Victorian race meetings, jockeys will be required to wear a face mask at all times whilst on-course, except when on horseback.

Riders already in possession of their own customised face masks that meet appropriate safety standards are permitted to wear them on horseback whilst the interim measures are in place, including during the conduct of a race.

Face Masks – Jockeys and Track Riders (Training)

Jockeys and track riders engaged in trackwork and jump-outs at training centres and Licensed Premises in areas in which Stage 3 restrictions (or higher) are in place are not required to wear a face mask whilst on horseback, unless they receive a specific directive from the host Club. All riders in these locations are required to wear a face mask whilst on the ground.

RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said: “Thanks to our biosecurity protocols and the adherence of participants over the past four months, we have been able to safely continue training and racing throughout the pandemic for the benefit of the 110,000 people employed or participating in Victorian thoroughbred racing.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to review our protocols to ensure that they are best placed to allow for the safe continuation of Victorian racing, whilst consulting Government and health authorities for their latest advice.

“Today’s changes to our protocols around face masks take into consideration the latest Government directives and our desire to ensure that we take all responsible measures to minimise the risk of a COVID-19 case or cluster occurring in Victorian racing given the increased community transmission within the state.

“I want to take the opportunity to again reiterate to all industry participants and officials the critical importance of staying at home if they feel unwell; if they have been tested and are awaiting results; or if they are a close contact of a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case.

“Whilst our biosecurity protocols have served the industry incredibly well throughout the pandemic and all within the industry have done a fantastic job, we cannot have anyone let the side down now. Everyone in Victorian racing must remain vigilant and do the right thing to ensure that racing and training can safely continue.”