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F1 says Aus GP will go on amid coronavirus concern

Mat Coch

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Monday 2nd March, 2020 - 1:08pm

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Sebastian Vettel at the 2019 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

Formula 1 and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) have today stated the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix is set to go ahead despite mounting concern surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

MotoGP promoters Dorna announced that the premier class would not race in Qatar on March 6-8 amid tightening travel restrictions from Italy where a number of teams are based,

That has fuelled suggestions that the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix could also be in doubt, though that has been swatted away by the sport.

“For the time being nothing has changed in the calendar of the first three races,” read a short response today from Formula 1 to Speedcafe.com’s inquiry regarding recent coronavirus developments.

That was followed by a statement from the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, passed to Speedcafe.com.

“The health and safety of everyone at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 is paramount,” AGPC CEO Andrew Westacott said in the statement.

“The Australian Grand Prix Corporation has robust health, safety and emergency management arrangements in place at each event and we will continue to work collaboratively with health agencies and related government and emergency services organisations in addressing this matter.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation in the leadup to the Grand Prix and will take guidance from subject matter experts, including Victorian and National Chief Health Officers and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

“Formula 1 has confirmed that the Australian Grand Prix is going ahead and we’re looking forward to welcoming them and the teams to Melbourne in the next one to two weeks.”

Their statements are in-keeping with the position of the Department of Health which explained that there are currently no travel restrictions for people from Italy when approached by Speedcafe.com.

“I think it is becoming disproportionate and ineffective to keep imposing very rigid quarantine requirements for what could be a large number of countries,” said Brendan Murphy, the Australian Government Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer, in a press conference last week.

“Our focus has to be on identifying people who’ve come from those countries who’ve become unwell, testing them and isolating them.

“I don’t think we can go on forever imposing very strict restrictions on an increasing number of (countries).”

The Department of Health has strengthened its advice with its coronavirus health alert now stating: “If you are returning from Italy or South Korea, and you work as a healthcare worker or as a residential aged care worker, you should not attend your regular work for 14 days”.

Australia currently has travel bans for China and, as of the weekend, Iran.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto sparked speculation last week with suggestions his team could miss the Australian Grand Prix as Northern Italy faces a growing outbreak of coronavirus.

The squad has placed a ban on non-critical travel, with Binotto even calling for guarantees his staff would not be placed in quarantine upon arrival in Australia.

Williams has also stated that it has examined its travel plans with its staff having been slated to transfer through Singapore en route to Melbourne.

The Australian Grand Prix is scheduled to run over the March 12-15 weekend, meaning F1 staff travelling for the event are expected to arrive beginning this weekend.

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