Arima Race Club (ARC) president Robert Bernard has stated that racing will begin at Santa Rosa Park in Arima on October 23 but behind closed doors.
Prime Minister Keith Rowley on Saturday gave the green light for horse racing to resume from November 1 for only fully vaccinated persons during a media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Port-of-Spain.
During the Prime Minister's announcement of several adjustments to the COVID-19 measures to restaurants, bars and casinos being allowed to operate at full capacity and serve alcohol to vaccinated patrons from November 1; the Public Service will begin returning to work in larger numbers, he advised that horse racing will resume with vaccinated patrons in the stands only.
Dr Rowley said: "We have been lobbied pretty heavily for the past two months by the Minister of Trade and associates in the horse racing business but horse racing can resume to vaccinated patrons. In the stands, we'll allow vaccinated persons only to come in at least for now."
The local racing season was halted in April due to the government’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and was scheduled to resume on October 16 at Santa Rosa Park but was pushed back by a week.
Bernard said: "After a meeting of the Arima Race Club (ARC) two Wednesdays ago, a decision was taken to push back the resumption date by one week from October 16 to October 23. This was done to cater for unvaccinated members of the horse racing fraternity.
"The ARC has to comply with the Safe Zone operative and therefore some of the workers in the fraternity were not vaccinated, so it was best to defer by one week to ensure all is well."
When Guardian Media Sports quizzed some jockeys, they reported that several of them are now close to being fully vaccinated as they all had their first dose on October 4, hence making October 18 the date to be cleared.
However, Bernard stated, "With the One-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, many of our owners, trainers. grooms, committee members and members have been vaccinated. No one will be allowed into the compound unless they are fully vaccinated. Everyone had the opportunity to get the one-shot two weeks ago and they would have been able to comply with being fully vaccinated by October 23. We are not going to go against Government Regulations."
In ending, Bernard said, "We still have the Guineas and Derby to run before the year is out. We have sent the programme for approval to the TTRA (T&T Racing Authority) and we are awaiting their response. We are very hopeful that all will be well as we are not contravening any rules of racing."
With regard to the feedback, the ARC received from the bold move Bernard said, "Everyone understands. We are not trying to be dictatorial. Up until recently, some of the trainers were not vaccinated. They are now on board."
Concerning the Safe Zones, Bernard elaborated, "We know that local betting shops reopened on October 11. We opened our betting shops last Thursday. We at the ARC are serious about the Safe Zone hence our action plan."