Churchill Downs Derby Week policies not impacted by CDC, state mask changes


Several changes to guidance for outdoor mask-wearing have been laid out during Derby Week, but none impact the policies inside Churchill Downs.

As festivities get set in motion, the paddock may look a little different with signs promoting social distancing, but for those in the crowd, the thrill is all the same.

“I like the fashion,” Lorie Blevins, who traveled to the track from Charlestown, Ind., said. “I like looking at everybody. The horses and the excitement of the race.”

Rose Powers also made her way to the twin spires from Southern Indiana.

“I like the horses, the people, and seeing the styles,” Powers noted.

This year, everyone’s wardrobe will have to include one key element: a facemask.

It must be worn on Churchill Downs property, inside and out, unless you’re actively eating or drinking.

That even as Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear relaxed mask restrictions for outdoor events earlier this week.

“While we were able to loosen our mask mandate for outdoor gatherings, indoors we’re going to be very careful until we can get enough adults, and we may get to the point where we need to get enough children vaccinated,” Beshear said.

Those changes to outdoor restrictions in Kentucky only apply to crowds of 1,000 people or less.

“We know we’ve got two amazing tools right now that are letting us do things right now like the Derby,” Beshear said. “It’s the vaccines, and it’s the effectiveness of masks and other steps. So, we’re committed to doing it right, but we’re committed to being open-minded as we learn about the science.”

The CDC announced Tuesday it would be loosening restrictions too, but ultimately, its guidance, of allowing people to go maskless in small groups outdoors if fully vaccinated, wouldn’t impact those at Churchill Downs either.

“I want to be absolutely clear,” President Joe Biden said, during a press conference Tuesday. “If you’re in a crowd, like a stadium, a conference, or a concert, you still need to wear a mask.”

Even if faced with restrictions and changes, some of those watching the horses Tuesday said, regardless of the situation, they’re just grateful they’re allowed to attend again.

“It’s finally happening,” Powers said. “We’re moving forward.”

Churchill Downs has also a limited capacity for Kentucky Derby 2021.

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