New Zealand’s Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) has announced plans to resume horse racing in the country on May 29, while greyhound racing will get back underway as early as May 5.
Racing staff were recently permitted to return to trialling and training after New Zealand eased its lockdown measures. The RITA has since confirmed harness racing will be allowed to resume on May 29, though thoroughbred racing won’t follow suit until July 3, per iGamingBusiness.com.
The planned return dates and protocols were approved by WorkSafe, “New Zealand’s primary workplace health and safety regulator.”
New Zealand has received widespread praise for its approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic, though Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has recently come under increased pressure to roll back the lockdown laws.
Mat Kermeen of stuff.co.nz wrote on April 25 that Tony Pike, national president of the New Zealand Trainers Association, wrote to the RITA seeking assurances amid the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
Like most other major sports, horse racing has suffered economically as a result of not being able to host events as planned due to COVID-19, with jockeys, trainers, breeders and other staff missing out on prizes and pay with no races taking place.
Horse races have been allowed to continue in Australia without punters and fans in attendance, though New Zealand took a stricter approach by temporarily banning the sport.