Friday, 8 October 2021
It is tough to think that, for a second year running, the Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup Carnival and the Ladbrokes Cox Plate Carnival are upon us and we’re again unable to welcome spectators, including owners, to the track.
Whilst all within Victorian racing have done an incredible job to safely continue racing during the COVID pandemic, we know that it’s been a challenging 18 months for owners.
The opportunity to pat your horse and cheer them on in person has been limited as our industry, and indeed the broader Australian community, has worked to save jobs and lives in the face of this once-in-a-century event.
Whilst COVID cases are continuing to grow in Victoria, there is light at the end of the tunnel with vaccination rates on the rise also.
The Victorian Government unveiled its road map out of lockdowns in recent weeks and provided an important signpost for racing and other sporting and cultural events when 80% of eligible Victorians are double vaccinated.
Crowds of up to 5,000 people will be permitted to return to race meetings from that milestone, but only for double vaccinated people.
We’re all longing for the return of crowds and to enjoy a day at the races with family and friends and that opportunity is in sight if we can get our vaccination rate up.
Owners will of course be among those prioritised in the return to track, but the Government mandate for all Victorian events means that you will only be permitted to do so if you’re double vaccinated.
If you haven’t had the jab yet, we encourage you to consult your GP or health professional and roll up your sleeve now should you wish to get back on track in the foreseeable future.
As I type this note, the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) are awaiting advice from the Government and Department of Health on their application for up to 11,500 people to attend all or some days of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Current projections have Victoria reaching the 80% double vaccination milestone somewhere in Cup Week, so it is indeed a race. Further advice will follow from the VRC in the weeks ahead, but we know that they have a robust plan to ensure the safe return of spectators if permitted.
You will be aware that Racing Victoria (RV) announced on 15 September 2021 a condition of entry requirement that all licensed, registered and permitted participants and RV staff be vaccinated against COVID to enter racing operations areas at racecourses on raceday, designated licensed premises in Victoria and RV premises. You can read that announcement here.
Since then, the Victorian Government announced on 1 October 2021 that all Authorised Workers are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Government’s announcement is available here.
The public health directions which give rise to this order came into effect at 11.59pm last night and require Authorised Workers to have had their first COVID vaccination by 15 October 2021 and their second by 26 November 2021. As a result, the dates for our condition of entry requirement have been brought forward 24 hours to align.
By way of clarity, the continuation of racing during the COVID pandemic has been permitted under directions that determine that all participants within the Victorian racing industry are Authorised Workers. Accordingly, it is now a legal requirement of the State for participants within our industry to be vaccinated against COVID as designated Authorised Workers.
We are currently working with all participants on this mandatory requirement with the goal of providing the safest possible working environment for all, whilst also ensuring the safe continuation of Victorian racing.
We’re eager to welcome owners back to racetracks across the state soon and we’ll endeavour to keep you updated on any key developments in this space. If you have a horse engaged, be sure to also keep an eye on your acceptance email for news.
Finally, I want to again thank all owners for their support and cooperation during these extraordinary times and wish you the best of luck on the racetrack, particularly if you have a runner during the Spring Racing Carnival.