Crowds are inching towards a return in Melbourne, but it looks unlikely that race goers will be able to be trackside for this weekend’s action.
Racing Minister Martin Pakula spoke to RSN 927 on Monday morning after COVID-19 social restrictions in Victoria were eased overnight.
Pakula explained that although social restrictions had been eased, it might take some time for the relevant bodies to gain permission for crowds to return.
“Whether it can get away by Saturday, it’s going to be tight,” Pakula told RSN 927.
“Certainly within the next week or two I would expect to see crowds starting to come back to racetracks once those plans are submitted and ticked off by the relevant inter-departmental committee and the Department of Health and Human Services.
“We’re engaging with the industry I think starting today or tomorrow.
“My suggestion has been we talk to the three metropolitan clubs and probably CRV (Country Racing Victoria), on behalf of all country clubs, about submitting applications along with GRV (greyhounds) and HRV (harness) as well.”
Pakula was optimistic that we would see a swift return of crowds, with up to 5000 people able to attend meets sooner rather than later.
“Under the public events framework, the first couple of weeks from now to early or mid-December will be up to but we’ve indicated that will move every couple of weeks provided we maintain the current infection profile so that’s really promising.
“I think you’ll see up to 5000 in a few weeks’ time but look, it might not take two weeks.
“It might be a week from now. The first country meeting of next week there might be crowds but the way it will look will depend on the plan put forward by country racing or by the metropolitan clubs or the venue and that being signed off.
“I can’t really speculate about what the mix might be between club members and GA (general attendance).
“The office of racing will work with the PRAs (Principal Racing Authorities) and the clubs to get their applications in and we’ll be working with the Department of Health to get them ticked-off ASAP.
“The fact that we’ve had owners on the track and we are going to get crowds back on track in the next couple of weeks is another step along the road that the economy is taking and its another great advance for racing.”