On behalf of the Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association I urge all participants to put their health and the health of other drivers, trainers and stablehands first as the community deals with COVID-19.

Harness racing participants have a reputation of being hard-edged and brave, but this is not a time for bravery. It’s a time for diligence, awareness and caution.

I strongly agree with the leadership shown by HRV in today’s announcement to limit track attendance to licensed participants and essential staff.

It’s OK to be overly protective, and I’d rather over react and still be around than brush it off and no longer be around. Participants must adapt and do things they aren’t used to doing.

It’s not only your livelihood and your health, but the livelihoods and health of those around you or who depend upon you, including the many older harness racing participants who are most vulnerable to this virus.

The VTDA urges its members to follow World Health Organisation advice to practice good hygiene at all times, including small things like bringing your own pen to sign in or using hand sanitiser after any contact, and if you have symptoms do not attend the track but isolate yourself to prevent the virus spreading.

If you attend a track, wash your hands regularly, cover your face when coughing or sneezing and keep a safe distance from others.

HRV has informed us they will be taking this into account and organising stalls setup accordingly.

If you have symptoms or need information contact hrvohsreporting@hrv.org.au and follow the HRV website, thetrots.com.au, and social media channels (Facebook and @TheTrotsComAU on Twitter).

Participants are reminded that the free Industry Assistance Program is available to all participants. Click here for details on how to access the program or phone 1300 360 364.

This is no time for a blasé attitude. Sometimes you have to put yourself out for the benefit of everybody and that’s what we need to do.

Take care of yourself and those around you.

- Lance Justice, Victorian Trainers and Drivers Association president