LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With lower capacity and COVID-19 restrictions in place, there’s a new fashion accessory taking stage at Churchill Downs: masks.
Signs are up throughout the racetrack reminding people to wear masks and social distance amid the pandemic. Churchill released health and safety guidelines for attendees, including temperature checks and mask requirements.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear posted a photo of himself and his wife on Twitter Saturday, encouraging all Kentuckians to wear their masks at the event.
"Happy Derby, Kentucky," he tweeted. "Let's show the world how to do this right #MaskUpKy #Derby2021."
While Beshear has lifted Kentucky's mask mandate for outdoor events with less than 1,000 people, masks are still required at the Derby due to high attendance. According to the track, guests are only allowed to unmask when in their seats or actively eating and drinking. Children under five are not required to wear masks.
Though some attendees have had masks on while walking throughout the facility, many have been seen without a face covering. During NBC's live coverage of Derby Day, maskless fans in the infield could be seen gathering at the fences to watch Tori Kelly's performance of the national anthem.
Churchill Downs said they will be enforcing the mask mandate, but WHAS11 reporters on scene have not seen a lot of enforcement. What was seen, though, are staff members holding signs reminding people to put masks on.
WHAS11 reached out to Churchill to discuss how many people were seen maskless during Derby week. In a statement, the track said guests are required to wear masks as they move from place to place and while at their designated area.
"We have a health and safety compliance team monitoring all sections of the track reminding guests of this policy," the statement said. "We ask our fans to join us in our commitment to keeping Oaks and Derby safe by complying with all state health protocols as well as those we have established and communicated at Churchill Downs."
Reporters at the track also saw the health department observing the crowd. Churchill posted on its website that anyone who is not complying could be given a warning and repeat offenders will be asked to leave.