Just 500 public tickets for Melbourne Cup reopening

The Victoria Racing Club is hoping for a crowd of 10,000 at Derby Day on Saturday, October 30, if the 80 per cent target can be hit early but says it needs certainty by this weekend. Insiders rate that a 50-50 chance.

But the VRC was expected to announce on Wednesday that 70 per cent of its 10,000 Melbourne Cup tickets will go to members to reward them for all their support during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 lockdown put a stop to live performances. Paul Rovere

Most other tickets will go to corporate sponsors, with Penfolds stepping in to support Derby Day after AAMI pulled out, plus around 800 for racing owners.

Only around 500 tickets are expected to be made available for the general public next week at $120 a ticket for a reserved seat. Attendees will need to wear a mask and be double vaccinated.

“There’s no doubt there will be disappointment,” VRC chairman Neil Wilson said.

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made it clear that the world’s best tennis player Novak Djokovic will not be allowed to play at next year’s Australian Open unless he is fully vaccinated.

“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country,” he said on Tuesday.

Novak Djokovic looks unlikely to make it into Australia for the Australian Open. Getty

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke confirmed on Wednesday morning that any sports stars hoping to compete in Australian competitions this coming summer would need to have had both doses of a TGA-approved vaccine.

“Our health advice is that when we open the borders everyone that comes to Australia will have to be double vaccinated,” Mr Hawke told ABC’s Radio National.

Mr Frydenberg doubled down on his criticism that Victoria was failing to provide the same freedoms as NSW at the same vaccination targets. His comments came after a scathing opinion article in The Age by former national deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth and epidemiologist Catherine Bennett, who warned that “the interpretation of inconclusive evidence in a conservative way” had become the trademark of the Victorian approach.

“Two of Australia’s leading medical experts have made a powerful intervention in the debate about restrictions easing in Victoria,” Mr Frydenberg told The Australian Financial Review.

“They make the telling point that when it comes to Victoria and NSW, ‘both states are similar enough that they could move out of lockdown at the same vaccination target determined pace’.

“Sadly this is not the case as Victorians are being denied the same freedoms the people of NSW received at a 70 per cent vaccination rate. The sooner we allow businesses to reopen the sooner we get our economy moving again,” he said.

The chief executive of iconic Australian retailer Clark Rubber, Anthony Grice, is championing the call for the Victorian government to reconsider including retail as part of the 70 per cent vaccination rate reopening plan.

With 11 stores across Melbourne, Mr Grice said small business operators were “bleeding” and the suggestion that they could shift their stock “outdoors” to open up for trade was “absurd and cruel”.

He said the government’s latest offer of $2000 to assist retailers in setting up outdoors showed a complete lack of understanding of the industry and the detailed requirements to make that a possibility.

“Our franchisees are, every day, hardworking small business owners who have lost so much since the start of the pandemic. They cannot simply shift stock outdoors and set up shop in car parks,” he said.

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