Hong Kong race goers are able to return to the track in restricted numbers from the meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday as the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the HKSAR Government work towards permitting race crowds back on-course.
From Sunday confirmed groups of four will be allowed on course provided they have an advanced table booking and they must adhere to the public health measures, including temperature screening, filling in a declaration form and wearing a surgical mask while adhering to the social distancing requirements.
SCMP.com reports that these arrangements will be in place for four meetings – September 20 (Sha Tin), September 23 (Happy Valley), September 27 (Sha Tin) and October 1 (Sha Tin).
Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting, commencing at 9.15pm AEST, will only have horse owners with starters and up to three accompanying guests with advance table bookings approved by the Club admitted to the racecourse.
Any person who has travelled overseas within 14 days before the race day will not be admitted, except those who are exempted by the HKSAR Government from quarantine requirement.
To comply with the Government’s condition on group gatherings in the Parade Ring, only two Owners of each horse will be allowed to have access to the Parade Ring. Special arrangements will be implemented in the Parade Ring to ensure that there is at least 1.5 metres social distance between groups of people inside the Parade Ring.
Starting from 16 September, in addition to pre-sale days, OCBBs will open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm on night race meeting days to provide betting services and will continue to provide customer services on non-racedays.
All customers are required to receive temperature screening before entry and wear surgical masks inside the OCBBs. All customers and staff are required to observe the prevailing social distancing and group gathering restrictions as promulgated by the HKSAR Government during their stay in the OCBBs.
The latest moves are a boost towards regaining a ‘new normality’ for crowd participation at Hong Kong’s two racecourses after patrons were shut out from the courses in January as the Covid-19 pandemic struck Hong Kong and the world.
In many racing jurisdictions crowds are still banned from being on-course. On Sunday it was announced that the 2020 Breeders’ Cup will be run at Keeneland on November 6th and 7th without on-course patrons. Last week at the Doncaster meeting in the UK patrons were prevented from attending the final days of the meeting after local health officials shut down crowd gatherings.
Korean racing has shut down again after a restart in July with no spectators and betting, while Singapore, New Zealand, South Africa along with Victoria in Australia are restricting on-course patrons.
Japan is also restricting on-course patrons but has opened some off-track betting facilities for partial operations.
NSW in Australia allows restricted on-course attendance through table bookings and monitored social distancing with Sydney’s Saturday meetings regularly attracting between 2,500 to 3,500 patrons.
Racing at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club