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Racing Victoria has this afternoon announced changes to biosecurity protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes include the compulsory wearing of face masks at all Victorian race meetings for those that may not always be able to socially distance and maintain 1.5 metres between themselves and others

Racing Victoria’s press release:

Racing Victoria 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 ongoing consultation with industry stakeholder groups, RV has today announced that the following protocols will be updated:

Face Masks

From Saturday, 18 July 2020, the wearing of face masks will be compulsory at all Victorian race meetings for those that may not always be able to socially distance and maintain 1.5 metres between themselves and others.

RV will facilitate the distribution of masks to industry participants and raceday officials at each race meeting with further communication to follow to stakeholders on the logistics of this process.

Trainers and stable staff at training centres in areas in which Stage 3 restrictions are currently imposed will also be encouraged to wear a mask when they are unable to practice social distancing.

Green and Gold Team Jockeys

From 11.59pm on Friday, 17 July 2020, the following changes will apply to all jockeys participating in trackwork and jump-outs within Victoria:

  • All jockeys are permitted to nominate a maximum of two training venues at which they intend to ride trackwork for the week, noting that private training facilities are classified as a training venue in the same manner as a racecourse;
  • Green Team jockeys remain permitted to participate in trackwork at Approved Racecourses only, being those overseen by the Melbourne Racing Club (Caulfield, Sandown, Mornington), Ballarat Turf Club (Ballarat, Burrumbeet), Victoria Racing Club (Flemington), Cranbourne Turf Club (Cranbourne) and Pakenham Racing Club (Pakenham). Their two nominated training venues for trackwork must come from these tracks;
  • All jockeys are permitted to ride trackwork at only one of their nominated training venues each morning;
  • Jockeys are permitted to ride in trackwork and jump-outs on the same morning provided that it is at the one track and that the track is one of their two nominated training venues for the purposes of trackwork;
  • There remains no cap on the number of sets of jump-outs that a jockey may participate in each week, noting that Green Team members remain restricted to participating in jump-outs at their Approved Racecourses only; and
  • Jockeys are required to maintain an appropriate logbook of their locations and activities, including times of arrival and departure and persons with whom they have contact.

Jockey Weights

A return of jockey weights to pre-COVID levels was previously earmarked for the commencement of the new racing season on 1 August 2020.

Due to the circumstances regarding COVID-19 within Victoria, the 2kg COVID allowance will remain in place until at least 19 August 2020 with the date subject to an ongoing review.

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.

“The request for masks to be worn on track by those that may not always be able to socially distance is an enhancement to our current biosecurity protocols and is in line with current advice for the wider community. It will serve as an extra layer of protection for those essential attendees on raceday and the industry more broadly.

“The change in trackwork protocols for all jockeys comes following consultation with the VJA. The restrictions provide a more level playing field for our jockeys, whilst maintaining the Green Team which has served as an important insurance policy for the industry in the advent of a confirmed COVID-19 case or cluster among our riders.

“Importantly, the new trackwork protocols will ensure that the movement of riders across the state is more controlled, which will greatly assist us with contact tracing and contingencies if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case.

“As previously announced, we were targeting 1 August as the date on which we would revert to pre-COVID minimum jockey weights, however we indicated at the time the need to retain flexibility if circumstances were to change in Victoria.

“Since that announcement, community transmission rates within Victoria have increased and we have seen Stage 3 restrictions re-imposed across metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire which does impact on the ability of riders to utilise various facilities, including gyms, to assist in maintaining their weight.

“As a result, we are extending the 2kg weight allowance until at least 19 August 2020, being the date currently scheduled for the conclusion of Stage 3 restrictions. Once again, we will continue to monitor the conditions in Victoria in the weeks ahead to determine the suitability of that date.”

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