Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited (SVREL) has announced the temporary layoff of 72 of its employees because of the shutdown of horse racing in Jamaica.

“The layoffs are as a result of the severe disruptions and the immense impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the country’s economy and which led to the shutdown of operations at Caymanas Park,” said Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) in a release as it explained the move by its subsidiary.

The layoffs will…affect 72 members of staff who cover general staff in the administrative, tote, racetrack operations and customer service areas,” added SVL.

According to SVL it had employed several options to protect its staff across the group during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Company paid leave was originally implemented for subsidiaries such as Post to Post Limited, SVREL and Champion Gaming, as their operations were shut down completely due to the Government orders issued in mid-March.

“The horse racing operations endeavoured to remain open with creative solutions such as spectator-less races in an effort to protect, not only the direct employees but also the wider industry ecosystem, and the livelihood of the more than 120 off-track betting (OTB) small businesses across the country,” said the release.

The company added that it anticipates that due to the pandemic’s unprecedented spread across the globe, its business in Guyana will also be impacted.

SVL declared that it has had to quickly respond to the risis to ensure that it is able to maintain continuity, while working through the changing parameters impacting the business community across the country.

“This is a difficult decision; temporary layoffs are the last resort and the final tool in our arsenal as we plan for the successful reopening of the track’s operations,” stated SVREL Chairman Solomon Sharpe.

“We look forward to bringing the team back together once we have cleared the public health and safety risks that have forced us to this point, and resumed normal business,” added Sharpe.

Following a race meet with no spectators on Saturday, March 21, SVREL shuttered Caymanas Park for an undetermined period.

At that time the company said it had extensive dialogue with the regulator of gambling in Jamaica, the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission, after it initially released a notice to the public that “all gaming lounges, betting shops and bars with gambling machines must close”, effectively shutting OTB network.

The company was then given the go-ahead to reopen operations and the OTB network after the BGLC chairman announced a retraction of the notice.

But the operations of the OTBs were shut down by the police during the spectator-less racing on Saturday, March 21, forcing the company to abandon race meets.

The track continues to house and exercise horses and SVREL said this is being done while ensuring that those personnel adhere to the social distancing and other required public health protocols.

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