TORONTO, March 31, 2020 – With the Government of Ontario extending the Declaration of Provincial Emergency and associated emergency measures due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, Woodbine Entertainment announced today that it remains committed to stabling horses on its backstretch for the purpose of providing them with the essential care they require. Businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including stabling, have been deemed essential workplaces by the Province.
“These horses need a home and our land and facilities were created exactly for the purpose of caring for these animals,” said Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment. “Furthermore, horsepeople have requested that we keep our backstretch open and we have only done so in accordance with the Government deeming stabling an essential business. We have also followed strict Government direction to minimize the risk in the spread of Covid-19.”
As it has since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Woodbine Entertainment will continue to operate its backstretch under very strict adherence to government and official health agency guidelines. Woodbine Entertainment has implemented many health and safety protocols to limit the spread of Covid-19. These health and safety measures include:
- Limited access to the backstretch by essential employees and licensed personnel only;
- Hired EMS to verbally screen and take temperatures of the limited individuals that are permitted to access the backstretch;
- Physical distancing practices deployed by using 33 barns spread across 200 acres;
- All common areas are closed and have been since before the Government closed non-essential businesses;
- Additional sanitization stations and signage to promote proper hygiene deployed throughout the entire backstretch.
- Reduced hours of access to the backstretch including a mandatory closure to everyone during midday.
- Horse vans arriving with Canadian horses returning from the U.S. must unload outside the backstretch area and be met by Canadian based staff to walk horses to barn areas.
Furthermore, starting today, Woodbine Entertainment is implementing additional measures to restrict access to the backstretch to designated personnel for each horse only.
“The HBPA and horse people are very grateful to Woodbine for continuing to operate its backstretch during this time and for doing so with the health and safety of everyone at the forefront,” said Sue Leslie, President of the HBPA. “We are very proud of our horse people currently located at Woodbine, who have been practicing important protocol outlined by health officials, and we want to remind everyone that it is of utmost importance we stay on guard so that we can continue to care for our horses.”
Woodbine Entertainment is also demanding that all essential personnel provided access to the backstretch are strictly adhering to physical distancing and proper hygiene.
To date, there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 in the Woodbine backstretch.