The Victorian government will allow a crowd of 10,000 to attend the Melbourne Cup race on 2 November, while it also announced that a concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl will be held as part of a series of trials for its new “vaccinated economy”.
New technology designed to screen for proof-of-vaccination will be tested during these events as part of an opening set to come as Victoria hits its double-vaccination mark, following regional trials at 15 venues across the state starting on Monday.
The 10,000-mark figure for the Melbourne Cup is based on a risk assessment from the Office of Chief Health Officer, and is lower than the 11,500 figure which the Victoria Racing Club had lobbied for.
All patrons who attend the event will be required to wear masks and will be separated into five sections with allocated seats for the service of food and drink.
The 25km travel radius for Melbourne would still apply unless Victoria reaches its 80 per cent double-vaccination rate by the date of the event, meaning that only those living 25km around Flemington Racecourse will be able to attend the event.
Victoria’s Minister for Racing Martin Pakula does not yet have the details regarding how the event will be carried out, however masks will need to be worn by attendees and there may be a proof-of-vaccination demonstration required both at the time of purchasing tickets and upon arrival at the event.
Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria would not reach the vaccination threshold in time to allow crowds at Derby Day on 30 October.
“We are not going to achieve it. It would be great to say that was a chance,” Mr Andrews said.
“I think the notion that we could hit 70 and 80 so close together — all the evidence is that we won’t.”
Save Victorian Events Inc, an industry group, has criticised the announcement in the face of continued uncertainty for the events sector.
“The announcement today of 10,000 people at the Melbourne Cup is a slap in the face to all the event industry businesses that continue to have no idea when they can even have more than 150 people to an event,” spokesperson Simon Thewlis said. He said the events industry could not understand why it had been kept in the dark in regards to capacity and density limits when reopening.
“There had been strong rumours that the Melbourne Cup had already been given the go-ahead, just as there are strong rumours the Boxing Day test has been given the go-ahead,” he said.
“Yet, at a meeting the other day with the organisers of hundreds of public events, the government just couldn’t give us any indication at all when we might know when more people are going to be allowed at those events.”