Raceform column

Bernard Saundry
26 March 2021

This week marked a year since the country moved into Lockdown and we were all rapidly immersed in the language of Covid Alert Levels.  

While Covid had been on NZTR’s radar from much earlier in the year, it was not until March that its impacts on our industry were felt.   Just three days later NZTR introduced its Coronavirus Emergency Regulations and announced that race and trial meetings would be closed door, with participants only able to attend.

The 2020 New Zealand Oaks meeting at Trentham on Saturday 14 March, saw distancing measures adopted as the industry took the initiative in moving to protect its participants.

Things moved rapidly during that week, with the government announcing its Alert Levels and at midnight on 25 March the country moved into lockdown with a State of National Emergency declared.

The swiftness of the changes through alert levels saw NZTR engaging not only with industry groups to keep them abreast of our protocols as they developed and evolved, but also working closely with MPI, Worksafe NZ, MBIE and the DIA.  Over the following weeks this communication was ongoing as various components of the industry including vets, farriers and transport companies all sought clarification as to what was permitted.

While it is easy to focus on our own needs and lose sight of the larger picture, it is worth noting that what we have been experiencing for the past year is a once in a generation pandemic which has impacted every corner of the world.

NZTR is proud of the way our participants have understood the need to work within protocols to ensure we continue to race.  Everything, from social distancing, the wearing of masks, the limiting of numbers on course, has been accepted as a necessity if we are to be allowed to function.  Of course, there are always the occasional rebels who need to challenge authority, but thankfully in this instance the vast majority have ensured our industry was not seen as one which tested the rules.

Unfortunately, Auckland returning to Level 3, with the remainder of the country at Level 2, first in August and on a further two occasions in February, has thrown further challenges our way.

NZTR engaged with the DIA, MPI, the Ministry of Health and MBIE at the time of the August Alert Level change, along with various other entities.  Those discussions are ongoing as we focus on finding a way to work within their requirements but continue to operate our business.

Covid is not going away in a hurry and we are learning to live within its confines.  However, NZTR remains dedicated to finding a solution to the restrictions around regional borders and will continue to push our case to government.

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