Unvaccinated NSW Racing Participants Left In Limbo 

UNVACCINATED participants in all three codes of racing are facing uncertainty after changes to NSW Public Health Orders failed to materialise overnight.

Adam Dobbin

13 October 2021

UNVACCINATED participants in all three codes of racing are facing significant uncertainty after changes to NSW Public Health Orders failed to materialise overnight.

While NSW embraced “Freedom Day” with open arms on Monday the picture for unvaccinated participants in the racing industry is much bleaker with their ongoing participation now on a knife’s edge.

Under current NSW Health Orders any unvaccinated jockeys, trainers, strappers and handlers will not be allowed on a racetrack in Greater Sydney until there’s a further easing of restrictions.

Racing NSW (RNSW), Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW), and Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) in their respective Covid-19 roadmaps had combated the sensitive issue by introducing Rapid Antigen testing for unvaccinated participants.

However, that costly proactive move by the three racing codes has essentially been scuppered by the recently released Public Health Orders which defines race tracks as major recreational facilities.

Major recreational facilities are categorised under ‘higher risk premises’ which means any unvaccinated persons cannot attend without medical exemption to do so.

It’s understood that Racing NSW isn’t all that concerned with the current health directive, comfortable that the majority of the industry’s workforce are double vaccinated which will allow them to continue without issue.

Sources familiar with the situation told News Corp that it was hoped amendments would be made to the Health Orders late on Tuesday following significant lobbying by the racing industry to the NSW Government.

Those proposed exemptions would have allowed unvaccinated participants to maintain involvement in their respective industries under the same Covid-19 health and safety protocols previously imposed.

However it is understood those overtures were flatly rejected by NSW Health.

Saturday will see Randwick host 10,000 fully vaccinated patrons at The TAB Everest while on Saturday night Wentworth Park will host a huge night of greyhound racing featuring two Group 1 finals.

With the individual vaccination status of participants unknown, it’s unclear if the Health Orders will have a material impact on Saturday’s The TAB Everest and supporting events.

Under the Health Orders, participants in Greater Sydney are required to be fully vaccinated to attend race tracks while in regional NSW at least one dose is required.

The NSW racing industry has exhibited a steely resolve during the Covid-19 pandemic to maintain racing in a safe and responsible manner.

On Wednesday afternoon, Greyhound Racing NSW issued a press release regarding the health protocols.

“GRNSW is making all efforts to advocate that the health order can afford NSW greyhound participants and workers the same respect that has been provided to other industries that have had an effective mandate placed on them,” the statement read.

“GRNSW some months ago undertook a lengthy exercise to consult with as many participants and Government stakeholders as possible and develop its COVID safety plan. GRNSW were industry leaders in developing a plan that would suit the needs of the Government and still allow all participants to continue greyhound racing activities at our tracks.

“Although the industry has been running throughout the pandemic with no greyhound track in NSW ever having been a venue which has had a positive case, the NSW Government has made the decision to significantly alter the way in which greyhound tracks are treated under COVID-19 Health Orders.”