BUSINESSES are backing a campaign to encourage people to celebrate the Apiam Bendigo Cup at the city's pubs, restaurants and eateries.
It comes amid discussions about whether the October 28 event will be open to patrons.
The day is still gazetted as a public holiday in Bendigo.
The Bendigo Jockey Club's 'I'll be celebrating' campaign seeks to promote both the event and the businesses supporting it.
COVID-19 restrictions mean the hospitality sector is limited in the number of patrons it can serve, both indoors and outdoors.
Bendigo Tourism board chair Finn Vedelsby was already making plans for his venue, The Dispensary, in honour of the day.
He said the Bendigo Cup was an institution.
"It would be a shame not to celebrate when we've got an opportunity to do so," Mr Vedelsby said.
But he urged patrons to celebrate responsibly.
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Mr Vedelsby said venues would have to adhere strictly to COVID-19 restrictions.
He suggested people book ahead to avoid disappointment.
"It will be a matter of first in, best dressed for making reservations," Mr Vedelsby said.
"We can't have people breaking the rules and ruining a fun event because of their disorganisation."
Police were planning on increasing their presence in the city on cup day to monitor crowd behaviour and public order issues.
It comes after a Bendigo venue was overwhelmed with patrons at the weekend, prompting it to close early.
"Our focus will be on keeping the community safe," Bendigo Senior Sergeant Bruce Simpson said.
Asked whether it was possible COVID-19 restrictions might be further eased in three weeks' time, when the Bendigo Cup is staged, a state government spokesperson said limiting the people's movement across the state was critical to slowing the spread of the virus.
"Throughout the pandemic and as we take cautious steps towards re-opening, every change we make to restrictions is guided by the most up to date data and advice from the Chief Health Officer," the spokesperson said.
"We want to make sure we stay one step ahead of the virus, so the whole state can be at COVID normal sooner."
They said attendance at events like race meetings in regional Victoria were being considered on a case-by-case basis.
"We are talking to race authorities about how this will work," the spokesperson said.
"The starting point is that individual clubs would make it known to racing authorities that they would like to seek permission for attendance at a race meeting."
The state government is understood to be in talks with Racing Victoria about whether patrons will be able to attend the Bendigo Cup.
The Bendigo Jockey Club intends to promote the businesses and venues participating in the 'I'll be celebrating' closer to the event.
It encouraged interested organisations to get in contact.
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