The Bahrain Grand Prix organizers have suspended the sale of tickets for the race in order to try and limit the spread of coronavirus, while Australia has also tightened its entry protocols ahead of next week’s Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne.
The Chinese Grand Prix has already been postponed and doubts remain over whether the inaugural race in Vietnam will go ahead due to travel restrictions. Similar restrictions were recently relaxed in Bahrain — where only people who have been in China, Iran, Iraq or South Korea in the past 14 days are banned from entering — and those who have been in Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand now requiring a valid visa before arrival.
However, with the situation evolving all the time, the Bahrain race organizers issued a statement explaining that ticket sales are being halted.
“The Bahrain International Circuit is committed to holding a safe and exciting Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix for local and international fans, and is working closely with all relevant government departments, including the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Interior, to mitigate the spread of oronavirus (COVID-19),” the statement read.
“In light of the continued global outbreak of COVID-19, the BIC has announced that it will be phasing the sales of Grand Prix tickets to ensure appropriate social distancing guidelines are met.
“As further facts emerge, the BIC is in close communication with both Formula 1 management and the Kingdom’s health authorities to assess the developing situation and release further tickets or refund the face value of tickets, depending on circumstances and updated medical advice.
“This precautionary step has been introduced along with a number of public health measures ahead of the Grand Prix to ensure the safety of all spectators, teams and circuit staff. These include screening procedures on entry, specialist medical facilities onsite, enhanced sanitation at the circuit, additional hand washing stations, information points for fans, as well as specific medical protocols to manage any suspected cases of COVID-19.”
At present this does not amount to a behind-closed-doors race on March 22, but the mention of a refund highlights how that remains a possibility.
Travel restrictions to Australia have also been tightened but should not overly impact teams, with the country stopping short of a travel ban against those who have been in Italy. While travelers who have visited China, Iran and South Korea in the past 14 days cannot enter, Australia’s government says “passengers who have transited through or have been in Italy on or after 5 March 2020 will go through medical screening upon arrival.”