Victoria’s Racing Minister, Martin Pakula, says the state is “back and open for business”, as the Melbourne Cup prepares to welcome back crowds for the first time since 2019.
- Fans will be at the track for all four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival after agreement allowing 5,500 people to attend Flemington for Derby Day
- A 10,000 spectator limit was already confirmed for Melbourne Cup Day, Oaks Day and Stakes Day
- Spectators at the carnival must wear masks at all times, despite Victoria’s outdoor mask rule ending on Friday
A total of more than 35,000 fully vaccinated patrons are permitted to attend next week’s racing carnival at Flemington Racecourse, with up to 5,500 on Derby Day and 10,000 on Cup Day, Oaks Day and Stakes Day.
Mr Pakula said the Melbourne Cup would act as the “firing of the starter’s gun” for the return of major events in Victoria, such as the Australian Open, the Formula One and live music concerts.
“I’m frankly jumping out of my skin,” Mr Pakula said.
Melbourne Cup-winning horse trainer Gai Waterhouse welcomed the return of crowds to the carnival, saying it was important Victoria “moves forward”,
“We’ve got to get things rocking and rolling again,” Ms Waterhouse said.
“Sydney has embraced it. It’s very much the same in Brisbane. Victoria should be the leader instead of hanging back.”
VRC confers with government over masks
Under COVID-19 restrictions, all patrons to the Melbourne Cup Carnival will be separated into three zones, with allocated seats for the service of food and drink.
Visitors must also wear a mask at all times, despite Victoria’s outdoor mask rule being set to be scrapped this Friday at 6pm, when the state is expected to reach its 80 per cent fully vaccinated milestone.
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) chairman Neil Wilson said the organisation was engaged in “almost hourly” discussions with the state government over the rule.
“So, we’ll watch that space and see if there’s anything that needs to be adjusted, but right now our event plan dictates that we need to wear a mask outside.”
“We certainly don’t want to compromise the safety requirements we’ve signed off on.”