Kentucky Derby Announces It Will Allow Fans in the Stands 'Under Strict Guidelines'

Earlier this year the Kentucky Derby was postponed to Sept. 5

Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty

Churchill Downs Racetrack announced on Thursday that it will allow fans to attend the 2020 Kentucky Derby "under strict guidelines" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision came after consultations with Gov. Andy Beshear and state public health officials.

“We truly appreciate the leadership of the Governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, and all of the hard work, collaboration and guidance that state and local officials and public health experts have provided us to safely and responsibly host Kentucky Derby Week in September with spectators,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said in a statement.

“Our team is deeply committed to holding the very best Kentucky Derby ever, and we will take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all who attend and participate in the Derby. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have established a comprehensive set of operating procedures, which include a multitude of precautionary measures to be followed while fans are in attendance at our facility," he added. "We are determined to keep our customers, employees and communities as safe as we responsibly can."

Earlier this year Kentucky Derby Week was postponed to Sept. 1-5, with the Oaks on Friday, Sept. 4 and the Derby on Saturday, Sept. 5.

In addition to reduced capacity and reducing fan access to facilities, Churchill Downs also updated their fan code of conduct.

It states that "guests will be consistently and frequently encouraged to wear a mask at all times unless seated in their reserved seat or venue. This includes when: riding on a shuttle, traveling through the venue, going to the restroom, placing an in-person wager and purchasing food or beverages from a concession stand."

Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby spectators. Mike Coppola/Getty

Fans will also be "asked to wash their hands for 20 seconds or sanitize them frequently" while at the event and are encouraged to socially distance themselves from others when possible.

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Tickets purchased for the originally-scheduled May Derby are automatically valid for the new September dates, according to Churchill Downs.

“The impact of the Kentucky Derby extends well beyond the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs,” Flanery said.

“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," he added. 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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