PRESIDENT of the Arima Race Club (ARC) Robert Bernard said the latest health regulations are clear that 50 per cent capacity is allowed at Santa Rosa Park for horse racing, on Saturday. However, the Ministry of Health still has not confirmed.
The regulations say, “A maximum of 50 per cent of the allowed capacity of a building is permitted in the following places.”
It includes “a common gaming house or betting office licensed under the Gambling and Betting Act.”
Horse racing at Santa Rosa Park is a unique situation as it is a betting office, but also a sporting event.
The regulations are clear that betting is allowed. However, when horse racing was allowed to resume on June 27 fans were not allowed to attend to reduce the spread of covid19.
The Ministry of Health has not allowed fans to attend other popular sporting events locally. The Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament which ended in September normally has packed crowds at Queen’s Park Oval and Brian Lara Cricket Academy, but in the 2020 edition no fans were allowed.
On Saturday at a covid19 media briefing, the Prime Minister said, “(Concerning) casinos, cinemas, theatres and members clubs a fair amount of work has been done with the business community who have committed to be very diligent in managing this particular situation because they are indoors we are coming out very cautiously here at a 50 per cent capacity.”
On Tuesday, in an interview with Newsday, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh did not clearly say that fans will be allowed at Santa Rosa Park, on Saturday.
“I will have to seek a legal opinion. I don’t make these decisions on the fly…I have to consult with legal,” Deyalsingh said.
On Monday, Bernard said his understanding of the regulations included horse racing at Santa Rosa Park.
On Tuesday, Newsday emailed the corporate communications department at the Ministry of Health to confirm if people can attend horse racing on Saturday. As of 3 pm on Thursday, the Ministry of Health did not respond.
On Thursday, Bernard said ARC was continuing to plan for the return of fans.
“We are allowed to have fans. Actually, horse racing is an industry as opposed to a sport that’s why we fall under the Ministry of Trade as oppose to the Ministry of Sport,” Bernard said.
“We are aware of it since Monday actually once the regulations were published…the regulations are very clear.”
The ARC website confirmed that the club’s off-track betting (OTB) centres opened on Thursday and fans will be allowed in the stands on Saturday.
“Our Curepe, St James, Union Park OTBs will be open from Thursday 29 October at 50 per cent capacity. Our grand stand will be opened to the public for our live card on 31 October at 50 per cent capacity. Thank you.” Bernard said he was “surprised” that Deyalsingh said he had to seek legal advice to confirm if horse racing fans can return at 50 per cent capacity.
Seven races will be held on Saturday with the first starting at 12.35 pm.