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Are race tracks open and can horse racing resume? What are the restrictions?

Last Updated: 05/03/2021

Note: If there is no unexpected surge in COVID-19 numbers, on Wednesday, May 19, percentage-based indoor and outdoor capacity limits will be lifted. Instead, businesses must limit indoor and outdoor capacity to a number that ensures all individuals or groups of people can remain six feet apart.

Horse racetracks can reopen for racing as well as for in-person bets, including at their sportsbooks and lounges, so long as they adhere to required social distancing policies and safety guidelines.

Racetracks must comply with requirements from Executive Order No. 157, Executive Order No. 192, Executive Order No. 230, Administrative Order 2020-14, Administrative Order No. 2020-20, and any guidance from the New Jersey Racing Commission.

Mask Requirement

Under Executive Order No. 192, all employees, customers, and visitors must wear a face covering while on the premises (both indoors and outdoors), except when an individual is under two years of age or where it is impractical like when eating, drinking, or receiving a service that cannot be completed while wearing a mask.

Employees, customers, and visitors who refuse to wear a face covering may be declined entry, except when doing so would violate State or federal law and provided the employer complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination where applicable.

Employers may permit employees to remove their face covering when they are at their workstation at least six feet from others or alone in a walled space such as an office. Employers must provide face coverings to their employees.

For more details and exemptions, refer to page 4 of Executive Order No. 192.

What to Expect at Racetracks

The following summarizes some of the protocols contained in Executive Order No. 157, Executive Order No. 192, Executive Order No. 230, Administrative Order 2020-14, and Administrative Order No. 2020-16. However, this summary is not a replacement for fully complying with the terms of EO 157, EO 192, EO 230, AO 2020-14, AO 2020-20, and any and all additional requirements from the New Jersey Racing Commission. Racetracks should read the full guidance carefully to ensure full compliance.

Reopening protocols at racetracks include, but are not limited to:

  • Limit total capacity of any outdoor area to a number that ensures that all individuals can remain six feet apart
  • Limit the number of patrons in any indoor premises to 50 percent capacity – excluding employees
  • Per Executive Order No. 183, smoking, including vaping, is permitted indoors only when otherwise permitted by State law.
  • Any establishments that serve food or alcohol must comply with the health and safety protocols for indoor and outdoor dining, including any regulations municipalities or counties impose on the hours of operation of in-person restaurant service after 8 p.m. In addition to the requirements included in Executive Order No.150, such restaurants shall limit their outdoor capacity to 100% of the restaurant's combined indoor and outdoor capacity prior to the expansion of outdoor capacity during this Public Health Emergency.
  • Restaurants located within sports wagering lounges may offer outdoor dining in accordance with Executive Order No. 150 and the outdoor dining guidance issued by DOH. In addition to the requirements included in Executive Order No.150, the restaurant's outdoor dining capacity shall be equal to the indoor capacity of the sports wagering lounge.
  • Other than individuals dining at restaurants or those within a sports wagering lounge, all individuals granted admission to the racetrack facility shall count towards the State gathering limits for outdoor gatherings.
  • Limit occupancy in restrooms that remain open to avoid over-crowding and maintain social distancing through signage and, where practicable, the utilization of attendants to monitor capacity
  • Prohibit non-essential individuals from entering racetracks, stables, and related facilities
  • Require the use of appropriate social distancing measures for individuals picking up or delivering equipment or materials
  • Require horses to be placed in stalls at least six feet apart, wherever feasible, to minimize human-to-human interaction
  • Stagger entry where practicable to limit the number of individuals entering and leaving racetracks, stables, New Jersey Racing Commission (NJRC) offices at the racetrack, the paddock, the detention barn, and any other facilities concurrently

For a full list of requirements, refer to Executive Order No. 157, Executive Order No. 158, Administrative Order 2020-14, and Administrative Order No. 2020-20.

Requirements to Protect Employees and Others

Employers must comply with the following requirements:

  • Require workers and customers to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another, to the maximum extent possible;
  • Provide approved sanitization materials for employees and visitors at no cost to those individuals;
  • Ensure that employees practice hand hygiene and provide employees with sufficient break time for that purpose;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines;
  • Prior to each shift, conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, consistent with CDC guidance;
  • Do not allow sick employees to enter workplace and follow requirements of applicable leave laws;
  • Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite; and
  • Clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines when an employee at the site has been diagnosed with COVID-19 illness.

Detailed requirements and exemptions for certain employers can be found in the full text ofExecutive Order No. 192.

Note: The statutory minimum number of live race dates for the 2020 calendar year has been waived. For more information, refer to Executive Order No. 197.

Source: Administrative Order 2020-14; Executive Order No. 157, Executive Order No. 158; Administrative Order No. 2020-20; Executive Order No. 183; Executive Order No. 192; Executive Order No. 194; Executive Order No. 230