New Zealand’s Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) has announced initial approval for the return to work on April 28 for companies and stakeholders in the thoroughbred and harness racing sectors in the country.
Subject to keeping with the strict procedures and guidelines set out in-code, workers will be able to resume trialling and training, with preparations expected to begin over the weekend.
The decision comes after the New Zealand government has downgraded the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) warning system to Alert Level 3, which requires stringent social distancing measures to be kept in place but enables the economy to partially re-open. The country’s horse racing had been suspended since 25 March, when Warning Level 4-resulting in a national lockout-came into effect.
However, RITA said that an agreement has yet to be reached as to when greyhound racing will return, with officials in the process of finalising the approval of Greyhound Racing NZ for participants to prepare for the April 28 trials. The protocols are scheduled to be confirmed in early next week.
Earlier this week, RITA presented a draught proposal for a post-pandemic race restart, setting out an initial proposal to revive greyhound racing on 11 May, harness racing on 29 May and thoroughbred racing on 3 July.
The proposal also details how the number of racing venues in use in New Zealand will decrease from 36 to 12, as well as how all races will occur behind closed doors – in line with the initial steps set out before the coming into force of Warning Level 4.
A review was due to be completed on April 28, with RITA preparing on May 4 to release a final calendar.