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May Races

May Races holiday shifts to Melbourne Cup day

News Article Date: 
Friday, 17 April 2020

The public holiday in Warrnambool that had been scheduled for the first Thursday in May will be substituted with a public holiday on Melbourne Cup day.

Changes to the May Racing Carnival program, social distancing rules and the potential burden on some businesses were behind the decision to change the holiday date.

“The May public holiday has been held for several years to coincide with the May Racing Carnival however this year the carnival program has been modified which meant there were no races scheduled for that day,” Warrnambool Mayor Cr Tony Herbert said.

“With crowds not permitted at the racecourse and a ban on social gatherings generally there was little value in offering a public holiday at this time.

“And moving the holiday will ease the strain on businesses who may have been faced with paying holiday penalty rates at a time when they can least afford to.

“Ultimately there was no compelling reason to have the May public holiday this year.”

Council also voted to write to the Victorian Government requesting that this year’s May Racing Carnival be cancelled or postponed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“This was a very difficult decision for Council because the racing carnival and the horse racing industry generally is of enormous economic and cultural value to our city and the region,” Cr Herbert said.

“The May Racing Carnival is undoubtedly the most important racing event outside Melbourne and the Grand Annual Steeplechase is world-renowned.  

“While no crowds will be permitted to attend the carnival it does draw a large number of racing industry people to Warrnambool and with this influx of people comes a heightened risk of spreading COVID-19.

“We all appreciate the racing industry – and as a city and region we are extremely proud of the May Races and benefit significantly from the event – but community safety takes priority.”


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