On Friday July 18, the majority of Ontario will be entering the third phase of the COVID-19 opening. Of course, for drivers and fans, they both flocked to their local track owners to ask the big question – can we have spectators and racing, yet?
The official government framework states “sporting and racing events” are allowed to take place – though there are limits in place. The document reads, “Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts, gathering limits apply to higher risk settings and activities where people congregate,” with racing events under that category.
Currently, the gathering limit for an outdoor event to a maximum of 100 people – so that means only 100 spectators would be permitted under that provision. Most tracks will not want to go through the trouble of just allowing 100 to attend, so therefore the doors will likely remain closed.
Many will remain frustrated with this fact, and understandably so on some regards as you see people congregate in other places closer together. There are many who feel we’re getting the short end of the stick, and possibly that is right. The easy factor would be to go against the rules. But go forth and do that, and get in trouble, and watch everything you’ve been given taken away and be back at ground zero. Do you really want to be back to no racecars on track at all?
There is hope, though.
Both the provincial government and local health units are willing to work with businesses that want to open things up in helping put provisions and plans in place. Doug Ford encouraged organizations to send proposals in, as to how they would maintain social distancing and keeping everyone safe – while opening up further.
It was a proposal in the alliance between the track owners and series promoters that led to where we are now. Brighton Speedway track owner Mark Rinaldi led the group, ultimately putting forth the original proposal that saw racing events begin to recognized on documents, and practice days to be allowed. There were limits enforced, with procedures to follow including the allotment of just five team members including the driver per car.
As we’ve seen, that has translated to Operation Green Flag being kick-started with events at Merritville Speedway, Flamboro Speedway, and Brighton Speedway without fans. The same goes for Full Throttle Motor Speedway being able to run their programs at Varney International Speedway and Grand Bend Speedway.
It is possible continued work together between the tracks and government could allot for more spectators to be allowed – with social distancing protocols in place, of course.
For now, though, it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy what we have accomplished. It’s a lot more than what we initially expected when things began shutting down through March and April.