One of Hong Kong’s biggest race meetings will go ahead with extreme restrictions on attendance because of coronavirus.
Monday’s Chinese New Year meeting at Sha Tin normally attracts more than 100,000 patrons but will be limited to those with previous bookings, around 8000, as well as staff and participants.
The outbreak of the deadly Wuhan coronavirus has spread from China to other parts of the world including Australia.
“The club has carefully reviewed arrangements for Chinese New Year Raceday, taking account of community views as well as the interests of customers and employees,” the HKJC said in a statement.
“We are particularly aware that Chinese New Year Raceday is a very important part of community life during the Chinese New Year holidays, providing racing and betting entertainment to around one million racing fans.
“The cancellation of the Chinese New Year Raceday would therefore not only impact those who choose to visit the racecourses but all those who stay at home or elsewhere to enjoy the races on TV or via other platforms.
“… the club has decided that Chinese New Year Raceday should go ahead, but with a reduced attendance and with measures in place to strengthen hygiene protection.
“On the day, apart from essential parties such as horse owners, trainers, jockeys, club officials and stewards etc., only those customers who already have a prior reservation at racecourse restaurants will be admitted. Patrons who wish to cancel their bookings will be given full refund.
“Other racecourse facilities such as betting halls, media halls and digital zone will be closed. This means that approximately 8,000 customers will attend the race meeting, these customers being distributed in 54 restaurants and boxes spread across two racecourses.
“According to medical experts, the level of health risk is not higher than visiting restaurants in shopping malls. All customers will receive temperature screening before entry and will be advised to wear medical masks.
“In consequence of this arrangement, the number of part-time employees working at the racecourses will be reduced from 11,000 to 3,000. Like all staff working on the day, these will receive temperature screening before entry and will be advised to wear medical masks.”
The club said the protocols would remain in place for future meetings while the crisis was ongoing.