Tampa Bay Downs, which has allowed on-track simulcast wagering since July 2 and Silks Poker Room play since mid-June, has formulated plans to permit spectators for its 2020-2021 Thoroughbred meeting, beginning opening day Nov. 25.
For the foreseeable future, fans will be required to wear masks both inside and outside the facility, unless they are eating or drinking. Temperatures will be taken of each person entering the building.
Various measures have been established to ensure social distancing, including: the creation of more outdoor, private spaces for small groups; a limited number of benches on the apron of the grandstand, with increased spacing; computer-generated, socially distanced grandstand seating; and a reduction in box seating, from eight to six seats per box.
Tampa Bay Downs has developed a website for fans to reserve seating that provides social distancing. The cost is $5 per seat and must be paid in advance.
Tampa Bay Downs has also implemented rules to protect jockeys. Riders, jockey room staff, starting gate personnel, etc., will undergo rapid COVID testing prior to their arrival, with twice-weekly testing from there on. No newcomers will be allowed without a negative test, and jockeys will be restricted to their designated areas on race days and required to leave the room following their last ride of the day.
Other elements of the track’s COVID-19 protocol include increasing the number of hand-sanitizing stations throughout the facility; ongoing cleaning and sterilizing of high-touch surfaces and areas; socially distanced markers on the floors; providing disinfecting wipes next to wagering machines, replay TVs and high-touch machines; and installing Plexiglas partitions between employees and customers at the Customer Service desk, program windows, concession stands and Gift Shop.