No jab, no entry: Racing Victoria to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for workers

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Racing Victoria will require its staff and participants, including trainers and jockeys, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of entry to its workplaces and licensed premises.

The no jab, no entry policy will apply to the racing operations areas at Victorian racecourses on raceday and public training centres, as well as at Racing Victoria’s Flemington headquarters and offices. All Racing Victoria staff and “licensed and registered participants” will need to be fully vaccinated to gain entry.

Racing Victoria will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for workers as a condition of entry.Credit:Getty Images

From Caulfield Cup day on Saturday, October 16, all participants and staff must have had at least a first dose of vaccine unless they have a lawful exemption. Racing Victoria will need to be fully vaccinated by Saturday, November 27 – Zipping Classic Day.

The condition of entry will apply equally to any participants from interstate who want to attend racing operations areas and when owners are permitted to attend race meetings, access to the mounting yard will be subject to the vaccination condition of entry in line with participants.

Racing Victoria said the requirement “helps to ensure the safe continuation of racing and training in Victoria, which is integral for jobs and equine welfare, and that the industry is best placed to welcome the return of crowds in any future environment where COVID vaccine passports become central to the conduct of events”.

It said the decision was supported by the “majority of Victorian licensed and registered participants,” who were surveyed on an anonymous basis last week.

Racing Victoria said a total of 3436 participants were invited to offer their opinion with 1590 choosing to do so, “representing a significant sample of the participant group”. Of those who responded, 64 per cent said that it should be a requirement for participants to be vaccinated.

The survey further identified that 67 per cent of Victorian participants were already fully or partially vaccinated, a further 15 per cent were intending to be vaccinated and that 10 per cent were still to decide. Eight per cent signalled their initial desire not to be vaccinated.

Racing Victoria said the decision was made on the advice of its chief medical office following a risk assessment and in consultation with key stakeholders including the Australian Trainers Association, Victorian Jockeys Association and the three metropolitan clubs.

The requirement will be regularly reviewed in line with the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated risks.

“It has been widely acknowledged that the only way out of the current COVID pandemic is to increase vaccination rates within the community to allow greater freedoms and the resumption of things we love, like a day at the races with our family and friends,” Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson said.

“Unlike other sports, racing operates on a year-round, daily basis with a highly mobile workforce, so it is therefore imperative that we do our utmost to protect the health and safety of our workforce and of the industry, which has been able to safely continue over the past 18 months courtesy of strict biosecurity protocols.

“Our participants want to protect themselves, their families and their livelihoods as social restrictions ease in the future and we see greater movement across the state and mandatory vaccination as a condition of entry is our way to do that.

“I want to let our participants and staff know that whilst we have set important deadlines for compliance, we will continue to monitor vaccine supply in the weeks ahead and retain some flexibility if issues arise, particularly for the younger members of our workforce.

“The possibility of crowds at our major race days later in spring and beyond that into 2022 is an important target for our industry and we need to ensure that we’re appropriately placed to welcome spectators back in a safe manner at the earliest opportunity, whilst protecting our staff and participants, and continuing to race.”

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