“I would encourage everybody to be getting double dose vaccinated as soon as they possibly can.”

That was the message to industry participants from David Hunter – head of Racing Operations at Racing Wagering Western Australia – when speaking to TABradio’s The Sports Daily on Thursday morning. Hunter provided some clarification around current racecourse COVID-19 protocols following the WA Government’s latest announcement of restrictions in the Perth and Peel regions:

 

WA GOVERNMENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT:

“Monday’s announcement … now impacts all racing venues in Perth and the Peel region,” Hunter said.

“That’s Ascot, Belmont Park, Pinjarra, Gloucester Park and our greyhound racing venues in Cannington and Mandurah.

“If you’re a patron, you must be vaccinated to enter those racecourses.

“The basis for that the government’s used is around liquor licensing and what they’ve said is in hospitality venue with a special facility licence with a capacity, and the key word there is capacity, for more than 500 patrons are required to check the proof of vaccination for patrons before they allow them into the venue.”

 

IMPLICATIONS FOR RACING:

“They were very clear that it only applies to patrons and doesn’t apply to people that are undertaking their normal lawful work in the venue,” Hunter said.

“Whether it be a member of bar staff who are subject to other mandates through the hospitality orders that were put out quite some time ago where they will only be required to have one vaccination up until the end of January, so they can still go to work with one vaccination.

“The fact that unvaccinated and vaccinated people are mingling isn’t an issue under those orders at the moment.

“At the moment it’s a mandate around patrons, it’s not intended to stop mingling throughout the general community.”

 

OWNERS:

“An owner is a patron on the day, they’re not there to work as such so they must be double dose vaccinated to get onto the racecourse,” Hunter said.

“They are able to enter the stalls area and the mounting yard, but the clubs will put a wristband on them to make sure that they’re identified as being double dose vaccinated.

“So, when they do go into the mounting yard, when they come back out they’re not going to have to show proof of vaccination again because they’ve got that wristband on to get in and out quite easily.”

 

INDUSTRY PARTICIPANTS:

“If you’re an industry participant going to work – a strapper, a trainer, a jockey – you’re entitled to go and do your work at the moment under those orders as well without being required to show proof of vaccination,” Hunter said.

“Where it gets a bit tricky for us is, if you’re a bar staff member it’s quite easy because you turn up at the gates, head to your work station and go home again.

“Jockeys for us are pretty much similar, you arrive at the racecourse, jump out of your car, take your stuff to the jockeys’ room and work and go home again.

“We don’t have that same situation necessarily with trainers and strappers, where they do move from doing their work throughout the day to perhaps becoming a patron throughout the day.

“There is no problem in them doing that, that’s absolutely fine, provided they show proof of vaccination to be a patron on the day.”

 

WHY RWWA HAVEN’T INTRODUCED A VACCINATION MANDATE:

“We would effectively, if we did that, be taking away the livelihoods of people who in good faith have only had their first dose,” Hunter said.

“They might’ve been a bit slower at getting that first dose than the rest of us, but they have got that first dose expecting that the mandates will start to come in when WA implements their Safe Transition Plan from the fifth of February.

“We weren’t comfortable that we could take away people’s livelihoods just at a moment’s notice when they were expecting this mandate more likely be coming closer to the fifth of February.

“There is a bit of cost involved with the way that we’re doing it because we need extra security, extra fencing and things, but we are protecting those people who continue to go to work in the interim period until we’re likely to see those mandates come in a bit later.

“If things deteriorate in the community with community spread then the government’s likely to become stricter and we may need to become stricter on things to protect the continuity of racing for the industry.”

 

POTENTIAL FUTURE VACCINATION MANDATE:

“RWWA is undertaking a consultation period at the moment with the racing industry on a proposed local rule to require everyone to be vaccinated to get onto a racecourse going forward,” Hunter said.

“As you’d appreciate, we can’t just put a notice on the website and sent a text message out and say, ‘here we go, everyone must be vaccinated’.

“There is a process that we need to follow as these sorts of things can end up with legal challenges as you’ve seen in other industries.

“There is a process that must be followed to make sure that we’ve got a rule in place that is safe and that will endure into the future.

“The likely implementation date for that of course will be the 5th of February which coincides with other government announcements around the Safe Transition Plan.

“I would encourage everybody to be getting double dose vaccinated as soon as they possibly can.

“We can see what’s going on in the east and things are escalating there very, very quickly.”