Welcome to our weekly Question and Answer column which runs each week on thedogs.com.au and GRNSW websites.

We are now more almost two months into dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and I want to commend all participants, race club staff, GWIC and GRNSW staff for their work during these difficult times in keeping everyone safe and the industry still racing.

As I have repeatedly said, while we do not know when the current situation will end, with each day we are one day closer to coming out the other side.

I also want to reiterate that our first and foremost concern is for the health and safety of our participants and staff.

I hope that this Q & A column has been beneficial to all participants, not just those who have emailed questions.

These Q & As began because I believe it was crucial to keep all participants up to date on all news involving the industry, and I encourage everyone to keep sending in their questions pertaining to the COVID-19 situation.

If you have any questions, please email them to the following address: update@grnsw.com.au

As the case has been with any important announcements or developments, we will publish those across our GRNSW network as required.

Here’s the latest round of questions sent in to GRNSW.

1. Q: Tony, why are stewards allowed to conduct at meetings in any zone (Bathurst setward at Temora) when we are restricted?

A: The regional racing zones were designed by GRNSW to restrict participants’ movement to the regions they are located in. GWIC have also limited their staff travelling however for operational reasons GWIC staff are not always located in the 6 regions that GRNSW have published.

2. Q: Hi Tony, it’s all well and good that all trainers/handlers are having temperatures taken upon arriving at tracks, but can you please explain why staff members (including the stewards and vet) at Bathurst track are allowed inside the track without being tested? Also the person that is taking the temperatures is coming from three hours away in a high risk area (Penrith area) surely they can get someone that is from the local area.

A: All staff, including stewards and vets, are temperature tested at the tracks. On very limited occasions the temperature tester/medic will be delayed which will necessitate some staff entering the track to prepare for the meeting so that the meeting can proceed. When this occurs the medic will still temperature test staff when the medic arrives. Due to COVID19 there is a requirement for many workplaces to have qualified medics undertake a basic health screening as one way to protect workers and participants from infection. Therefore medics are in high demand. We have been able to secure two providers that have staff willing to travelling long distances to work at our race meetings. As health workers, they monitor their own health status and capability to undertake their duties, and they perform all testing with appropriate personal protective equipment and cleaning protocols.

3. Q: Hi Tony, you have released the race dates and you’re moving Casino from Friday to Thursday and I’m not happy at all! Neither are a lot of people, not only trainers but the general public. I play football and we have our training days on Thursday afternoon and if you are to move Casino to Thursday we won’t be able to train for our matches. We don’t have other places to go and have been training at this track/field for the last 10 years (myself). A lot of trainers like to race at Albion Park Thursday night and then race the other dogs they have at Casino on Friday. If you change it, they can only race at one track and that will leave dogs sitting at home or forced to race on tracks they aren’t suitable to. Why would you change something that has been working? It’s going to make it hard on us footy boys and your trainers.

A: I do understand your plight here, and understand the importance of training, and I hope the club will be able to cater for an alternative for the footy training, but the research and information gathered by our racing team is that the better slot in our calendar would be to have Casino race on Thursdays. As to why we would make changes, each year we look at the racing calendar and any changes made are for the best outcomes for the industry as a whole.

4.Q: Great to see a Pathways at Lismore the battlers need the money more than the top graders.

A: We have and will continue to try to look after, and cater for all participants, be it battlers or professional trainers. It’s about everyone getting through this unprecedented time  of COVID-19 disruption.

5. Q: Hi Tony, once again, well done managing the current COVID situation. With the curve flattening, would it be possible to run a 1 x Non-TAB meeting (10 races) on a Saturday afternoon in each zone with grading from the bottom up so all the dogs not getting a run on the TAB meetings get a chance to get some form/points? I understand you are running extra TAB meets and attempting to cater for all dogs but there are still many with poor form and low points – especially grade 5 – that are not getting a chance.

A: Thank you for your question and I can tell you we have been continually looking at the situation with Non TAB tracks right from the start of regional zoning. We are looking at a return of some Non-TAB venues in the next race schedule.

6. Q: Why can’t I go and see my dog race yet? You can have a few people at funerals and weddings now, so why can’t I go to the track?

A: There are restrictions in place as to how many people you can have at an outdoor gathering, and when we factor in all the trainers and staff at a race meeting, we are under the advised number. If we were to allow owners to attend, then we would be at risk of breaching the rules. We are just the same are the other racing codes and all sporting codes, in not allowing anyone other than participants and staff into venues.

Good luck to those racing all around the State over the coming week, and congratulations to those who have enjoyed success in the past week.

As I mentioned last week I have noticed that I’m not receiving as many questions as I have previously had, which I think is a good thing as we all have settled into racing during the COVID-19 restrictions that have been put in place. I will now publish the Q & A column once a week, but of course if there are any announcement to be made, these will be done on all our media and social platforms.

I have regularly mentioned in this column these are tough times and we are as an industry all in it together, so I urge you to pick up the phone and call a fellow participant to make sure they are doing ok as well.

Do not forget if there is anyone who may be struggling at the moment and wanting somebody to talk to, you can do something about that. If you do feel the need to talk to someone about your situation, please do not hesitate to call. You can speak with a qualified counsellor at any time by calling 1300 687 327.

Keep yourselves and your families safe, and importantly be vigilant in these difficult times.

Tony Mestrov.