By Racing Qld CEO BRENDAN PARNELL
THE Queensland racing industry continues to exist in a rapidly changing environment.
Over the past month, further biosecurity measures have been deemed necessary to ensure the continuation of racing.
On a regular basis, Racing Queensland is in contact with the State Government – and its health agencies – outlining the economic, social and animal welfare benefits of our industry continuing including the tireless work of our 40,000 participants.
This includes outlining:
- The introduction of patron-free racing with on-course access now restricted to essential licensed personnel;
- The requirement for participants to leave immediately after their racing commitments (once cleared by stewards);
- The adoption of designated racing regions to limit participants from crossing boundaries;
- The introduction of a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for any licensee – Queensland or otherwise – who travels from inter-state;
- The introduction of mandatory temperature testing for all on-course personnel attending race meetings; and
- Reinforcing the strict social distancing and personal hygiene requirements through various channels including this one.
RQ cannot stress enough the role that our clubs and participants play in ensuring the industry is meeting its community obligation to uphold the strictest social distancing principles whilst we continue to race.
During this time, the Federal Government has advised that COVID-19 has more serious impacts on people over 70 years of age and those with existing health conditions or comorbidities.
National Cabinet’s strong advice is for self-isolation at home to the maximum extent practicable for Australians who are:
- Over 70 years of age; or
- Over 60 years of age and have existing health conditions or comorbidities.
Given the Federal Government’s health advice, RQ encourages participants who meet the aforementioned criteria to re-consider their ongoing attendance at all Queensland race meetings, training centres and any other licenced facility during the current COVID-19 conditions.
Whilst this is not currently a mandatory requirement, it is strongly advised.
RQ announces greyhound winter programming
RQ has announced limited feature racing, beginning with the staging of the Bundaberg Cup.
With a traditional winter carnival not proceeding in 2020, limited feature racing will still proceed at reduced prizemoney levels.
Among the selected features programmed between April and July include the Flying Amy, the Queensland Cup, and the Brisbane Cup.
Full details can be found at www.racingqueensland.com.au.
It’s worth highlighting, however, that this is not business as usual.
The establishment of designated racing regions, and the strict biosecurity measures that we have adopted, has required large-scale changes to our day-to-day operations.
This is reflective of the Queensland community more broadly and is necessary to ensure the continuation of racing during this unprecedented crisis.
These are tough times and they require a collective sacrifice.
By programming selected features, we are able to provide enhanced opportunities for our Queensland participants who are navigating this turbulent period.
Transportation of greyhounds in Queensland
RQ has also advised we will now allow conditional greyhound movement across designated regions for the purposes of racing.
During the first two weeks of designated racing regions, kennel transfers were not permissible, but RQ agreed to conduct a review of its decision after 14 days of implementation.
Having undertaken industry consultation, kennel transfers, for the purpose of racing or continuing to race in Queensland will be permitted, subject to a range of conditions.
The existing restrictions limiting licensed personnel to their allocated racing regions will remain in place and they will NOT be permitted to travel to other regions with greyhounds.
JobKeeper payments for employers and employees
Finally, the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program has been devised to assist Australian businesses, including racing clubs where applicable, to navigate the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The program has been designed to assist businesses in retaining their employees and to re-commence when the crisis is over, with the Commonwealth providing a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee until September 27, 2020.
Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if:
- Their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); or
- Their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); and
- The business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy.
The employer must have been in an employment relationship with eligible employees as at March 1, 2020, and confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive JobKeeper payments.
Not-for-profit entities (including charities) and self-employed individuals (businesses without employees) that meet the turnover tests that apply for businesses are eligible to apply for JobKeeper payments.
To assist clubs, participants and the general public with relevant information during the global pandemic, RQ will post the latest information – and updates – to a dedicated web page which can be found at www.racingqueensland.com.au.