ALBANY (CBS SF) — The Golden Gate Fields horse racing track in Albany suspended all racing activities Thursday morning due to the coronavirus pandemic after being contacted by the Alameda County Public Health Department.

The track has been closed to the public since mid-March, but was still running races that people could watch and bet on remotely. 

“We’ve had no public here whatsoever since the 12th of March,” said track General Manager David Duggan. “The place is effectively shuttered.”

It’s unclear why the track was still operating since the Bay Area has been under a shelter-in-place order that required, among other things, all non-essential businesses to close.

In a news release issued by Golden Gate Fields, track officials said, “In accordance with instructions received this morning from the Alameda County Public Health Officer, Golden Gate Fields will temporarily close for live racing effective immediately in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The release claimed that the facility was “abiding by the instructions issued two weeks ago by the California Horse Racing Board to operate under the sanction of the local health authorities.”

“At Golden Gate Fields, the health, safety and welfare of every person and every horse in our community is our top priority. At this time, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Golden Gate Fields,” the release read. “This measure is being taken in response to a mandate from Alameda County officials.”

The release noted that the over 1,200 horses stabled at the track require daily care that has been provided by “the 400 backstretch team members, most who live on-site.” Track officials said those employees were operating under “stringent new measures for protection aligned with the best guidance from local and international health and government authorities on COVID-19.”

Officials with Alameda County didn’t immediately respond to a request for additional information.

On Tuesday, health officers in several Bay Area counties and cities extended the shelter-in-place order through May 3 to try to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the region.

The previous order, issued earlier this month, was set to expire on April 7.

The new order covers six counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara — as well as the city of Berkeley.

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