Golden Gate Fields Closed, in Berkeley, California, will see live horse racing shut down through November to follow advice from local public health authorities. Their motivation is to protect the well-being and safety of employees of 1/ST RACING, along with people who work on the backstretch and the wider community.
Golden Gate Fields has used stringent safety and health measures since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as regular testing with required isolation for positive testers or close contacts of those who have tested positive, masking requirements and strict rules for social distancing.
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Golden Gate Fields Closed All November for Live Racing
Horse Racing stopped at Golden Gate Fields for a week last week because of an outbreak at the facility. Since that time, the entire facility at the track received a thorough deep cleaning, and COVID-19 testing was administered for all employees of 1/ST RACING and backstretch employees. The track shared all of their testing with the Berkeley Public Health Division.
There are 1,300 horses stabled at Golden Gate Fields, and they will keep receiving the daily exercise and care that they need. Positive cases are administered by the Berkeley Public Health Division’s case managers, with isolation required until the Division clears them. The BPHD and Golden Gate Fields will announce their policies for December as soon as possible.
Trainer Ellen Jackson finds the situation unnecessary. In an interview, she said, “It doesn’t make a lot of sense. They don’t allow spectators. The owners can’t go into the saddling paddock. There’s no more exposure than there is in morning training, but evidently the City of Berkeley doesn’t understand that.”
Race Tracks Venues affected
A similar shutdown has affected Zia Park in New Mexico. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in the state until November 30. There has been an ongoing argument as to whether horse racing facilities are non-essential businesses due to the fact that the horses need to get exercise every day in order to avoid negative health outcomes.
At both parks, there is uncertainty among the employees as to where their next paychecks will come from, as the federal government had covered lost wages due to COVID-19 shutdowns in the spring, but no relief measures have been announced going into the winter. For now, the betting windows are closed at Golden Gate Fields, and the hope is that local spread of COVID-19 will drop to the point where racing can resume in December.
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