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OPEN LETTER TO DR. MORRISON: Plenty of room on racetrack tarmac

P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison is shown at a daily news briefing in Charlottetown on Thursday.
P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison is shown at a daily news briefing in Charlottetown on Thursday. - Contributed

Les MacIsaac
Open letter

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Before I address my concerns, I'd like to take this opportunity on behalf of all Islanders to sincerely thank you, Dr. Morrison, for the incredible work you've done over the past few months. We're all aware that you've sacrificed quality family time for the good of the Island's population and for that we're forever in your debt.

Now to the issue at hand. It was recently announced that the tarmac at the Charlottetown Driving Park would be open to the first 50 spectators on a first-come, first-served basis. Prior to this there were a total of 50 people allowed in the restaurant upstairs and an equal number downstairs, yet no one was permitted outside in the open space and fresh air. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one. Allowing 50 people on the tarmac would be akin to putting about 200 in Madison Square Garden. There is more than enough room to accommodate three or four times that amount and still leave plenty of space for social distancing.

Another thing that seems to be garnering lots of attention is the accessibility to the barn area. I mean no disrespect, Dr. Morrison, but I'm not sure if you're aware that harness racing is a very social sport. Small gatherings are commonplace in the summer months on race nights and have been for many years. Obviously in these unprecedented times Old Home Week will be different. To eliminate this aspect of the race game could be a death knell for the sport. Horse owners would lose interest and prospective owners would never get the opportunity to experience firsthand the preparation that's put into getting a horse ready to race, and therefore have no desire to get involved. 

You'll find a lot more open space in the barn area than you will in barber shops, tattoo parlors, grocery stores, gyms and others, yet there is no shortage of people at these establishments. 

Another restriction that puzzles me is that if a horseman/horsewoman has nothing racing on a particular evening they have to vacate the premises before first race post time. This person is at the track most of the day, caring for the horses in their stable. But at 6 p.m., it's out you go. To me that makes absolutely no sense. I've been searching for an answer but as of yet, haven't been able to come up with one. It's just inconceivable. If there's a logical reason, I'd love to hear it and I'd be the first to say, "You know what, I hadn't thought of that."

While it's likely inevitable that a second wave is coming and complacency is our enemy, as of now things are progressing nicely. With the Atlantic bubble now in effect perhaps this would be a good time for a little more leniency at both of the Red Shores sites.

Thanking you in advance for any consideration you give to these topics and wishing good health to you and your family during these trying times. 

Les MacIsaac is a longtime harness-racing fan. 

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