THE annual Bendigo Greyhound Racing Association Gold Rush Carnival will proceed without racegoers following a crowd ban to help combat the coronavirus.
It follows the implementation of significant attendance restrictions at all greyhound meetings by Greyhound Clubs Victoria and Greyhound Racing Victoria on Monday in response to the declaration of a state of emergency.
The carnival, which will run from April 2 to 12, traditionally attracts big crowds on Easter Saturday and Sunday, with the racing complemented by functions and major children's and family activities
While conceding it would be 'a very quiet and somewhat sombre affair off-track', BGRA manager Troy Harley was pleased the carnival's seven meetings in 11 days would go ahead.
"It is unfortunate to have to cancel what has become an annual and iconic event on the local calendar, however, public safety and the well-being of our participants is the priority in the current climate and the decision, in the end, was an easy one," he said.
"Racing is set to continue in the immediate future albeit with no patrons and no on-course betting facilities after the TAB announced (on Monday) that it will not be providing operators on-track during the attendance restricted time period.
"It is essential for our participants, who rely on participation for a variety of reasons, including income, to continue for as long as possible.
"Racing has equally significant economic benefits in these troubling times and the restrictions in place will enable racing to continue until such time further government and medical advice requires further changes."
Like most sports, greyhound racing in Victoria will see race meeting attendances limited to those considered necessary to attend such as catchers, club and industry officials, accredited media and essential staff.
Harley said the BGRA planned to provide information from the track via social media on feature days so that punters were armed with up-to-date information.
"It should also be noted that Sky 2 is free to all homes as part of the standard Foxtel package from March 26 providing improved access to more racing coverage," he said.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.