Kentucky Derby Will Be Held With Attendees in September, ‘Strict’ Guidelines Enforced

Attendees must wear masks when traveling through the venue, placing wagers and buying concessions

Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

This year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks races will be held at Churchill Downs this year Sept. 1-5 with fans in attendance and under strict social distancing rules, it was announced Thursday.

The Louisville Metro Health Department developed the guidelines with Churchill Downs in accordance with Kentucky’s “healthy at work” recommendations. Tickets purchased for the original event May 3 will automatically be valid on the new dates.

Fans that attend the 146th annual Kentucky Derby will be “frequently encouraged” to wear a mask at all times, unless seated in their reserved area. A revised fan code of conduct will be updated to reflect these and other expectations for Derby attendees this year.

Masks will be required only when a guest isn’t seated during the event — including when attendees are riding on shuttles, traveling through the venue, using the restroom, placing bets or buying concessions. Guests will also be “encouraged to socially distance themselves from others when possible,” though Churchill Downs didn’t provide specifics as to how it will arrange attendees to account for the mandatory six-foot distancing between them.

Guests will also find their access throughout the race facility is limited, and credentials for employees, guests and media will be reduced. Guest parties in the barn area — including for morning workouts and during race days — will no longer be allowed.

Churchill Downs said in a statement Thursday the venue capacity will be greatly reduced. “Venue capacity reductions to limit overall crowd density, including general admission, outdoor reserved seating, premium dining and suites,” Churchill Downs said, adding that ticket holders will receive more information directly “in the coming days.”

Access to the venue will be limited to guests and Churchill Downs plans to limit “person-to-person touchpoints” at the event and establish protocols for its staff to protect themselves and guests.

The 2020 Kentucky Derby will be held Sept. 1-5, with the Kentucky Oaks scheduled for Sept. 4.

“The impact of the Kentucky Derby extends well beyond the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs,” racetrack president Kevin Flanery said in a statement. “It is an incredibly important time for the City of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky both culturally, economically and with respect to our time-honored traditions. Both employees and guests are asked to take an active role in following all guidelines. We must all do our part to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.”

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