THERE will be no crowds or owners allowed on course, but Victorian horse racing will continue during the state's fourth COVID lockdown.
The green light for racing follows Thursday's announcement by the state government of a snap seven-day lockdown, starting at 11.59pm on Thursday, and a raft of tough restrictions.
Racing Victoria (RV) was quick to seek assurances from the state government that racing would continue to operate as it did during the previous three lockdowns, with only participants - jockeys and trainers - essential race day staff and officials permitted to attend meetings until further notice.
Owners and other non-essential persons are also prohibited from attending training facilities until the end of lockdown at 11.59pm on Thursday, June 3.
"Throughout the pandemic, Victorian racing's clear objectives have been to protect the health and wellbeing of industry staff, participants and the wider community; maintain 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs across the state; and ensure essential daily care and exercise can be afforded to our horses," said RV chief executive Giles Thompson.
"Racing and training can continue in Victoria at this time under the strict biosecurity protocols that saw our sport safely continue throughout previous periods of lockdown and restrictions.
"As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to take decisive action to ensure that we provide the safest environment possible for both those participating in Victorian racing, as well as the wider community.
"With immediate effect all spectators, including owners, are prohibited from attending race meetings in Victoria during the circuit breaker lockdown, with a return to essential staff and active participants only.
"I also want to remind everyone within the Victorian racing industry of the critical need to abide by all government directives in the days ahead and to regularly monitor the government's website for updates to the exposure site locations.
"In particular, if any participants or essential staff have attended an exposure site or are displaying any COVID symptoms they must get tested and contact us immediately."
Country meetings affected by the new COVID measures include Saturday's program at Echuca and Sunday's card at Mildura.
Racing is not scheduled again at Bendigo until Saturday, June 5, two days after the anticipated end of the lockdown period.
Racing Victoria has advised face masks will be compulsory at all Victorian race meetings, training centres and licensed premises at all times.
Riders are permitted to remove their mask only when on horseback and when they have exited the mounting yard on race day.
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