Racing Victoria (RV) has today announced that the raceday industry zone, or ‘racing bubble’, will be removed at all race meetings from this Saturday, 20 November 2021 – a week earlier than scheduled.
RV announced in September that it would be a condition of entry to the racing operations areas on raceday that all persons were fully vaccinated against COVID from Friday, 26 November 2021.
The Victorian Government then published public health directions requiring authorised workers, including those in the racing industry, to be fully vaccinated by this date.
Fully vaccinated spectators have been permitted to attend selected Victorian race meetings since Saturday, 30 October 2021 under Government approvals. The racing bubble has been required to separate the fully vaccinated spectators and partially vaccinated participants.
With over 98% of Victorian participants now fully vaccinated, the decision has been made to bring forward the removal of the racing bubble by one week to both assist the country clubs hosting feature race meetings this weekend and to improve the raceday experience for all, in particular owners.
Cup meetings are programmed at Sportsbet-Ballarat, Tatura and Penshurst on Saturday, whilst bet365 Park Kilmore will host their Cup on Sunday in addition to a Swan Hill meeting.
Under the amended protocol announced today, the following will apply:
- any licensed, registered or permitted participant who is not fully vaccinated against COVID cannot attend a race meeting in Victoria in any capacity from this Saturday, 20 November 2021 until such time as they are;
- participants, like spectators, will be required to show their digital COVID vaccination certificate upon arrival at a race meeting to be granted entry. From Saturday, 20 November 2021 no other proof of vaccination status will be accepted unless an exemption is granted by RV; and
- any licensed, registered or permitted participant who remains only partially vaccinated against COVID can continue to attend a public training centre until Friday, 26 November 2021 at which time the order to be fully vaccinated takes effect.
In accordance with the amended protocol, owners are advised that the following will initially apply with the removal of the racing bubble on Saturday, 20 November 2021:
- access to the viewing areas around the raceday stalls will be permitted, as will any interactions outside the mounting yard with a trainer and/or their staff;
- access to the mounting yard for owners is now allowed but may not be permitted at some tracks and will be restricted at others owing to the size of the available viewing areas and the need to maintain appropriate social distancing. Owners are asked to monitor the respective club’s website and the acceptance email for their horse for further information;
- where entry to the mounting yard is prohibited for owners at a race meeting, clubs will allow designated winning owner(s) to enter and participate in the presentation of trophies following a feature race if the presentation is being conducted in the mounting yard; and
- where entry to the mounting yard is permitted for owners, access to the neighbouring indoors scales area remains prohibited.
As has occurred throughout the pandemic, RV will continue to review all protocols on an ongoing basis and make changes where necessary to ensure the safe continuation of racing and training within Victoria.
In making this announcement, RV notes that face masks remain compulsory indoors at all Victorian racecourses until otherwise advised and that they are recommended outdoors where social distancing is not possible.
Quotes attributable to RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson
“Given that over 98% of our participants are now fully vaccinated we are delighted to be able to bring forward the removal of the racing bubble to this weekend. This decision has been made in the best overall interests of the sport and those clubs showcasing Victorian racing from Saturday onwards.
“In reaching this milestone, I want to again thank all within the industry for the efforts in ensuring the safe continuation of racing throughout the pandemic and also acknowledge our owners for their understanding and patience.
“The removal of the racing bubble is another important and exciting step in returning to a more traditional raceday experience, one that allows owners and spectators a closer look at the horses in the stalls, pre-parade rings and mounting yard.
“Whilst the different infrastructure at some tracks means that mounting yard access may not be initially available to ensure social distancing is maintained, owners will once again be able to engage with their trainer on raceday which is an important part of their experience.”