Threat to Townsville 500 grows due to Queensland border rules

The first Townsville event of 2020

Queensland will maintain restrictions on travel from Greater Melbourne for at least a week more, putting the NTI Townsville 500 in jeopardy.

Supercars’ North Queensland event is due to take place on July 9-11, three weeks (Sunday to Sunday) after this weekend’s Merlin Darwin Triple Crown.

However, with Melbourne-based teams due to return home after a fortnight in isolation in New South Wales on their way to Hidden Valley Raceway, Queensland’s ongoing stance on the Victorian capital continues the uncertainty for the championship.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted a short time ago, “In line with other jurisdictions, we will maintain restrictions on travel from Greater Melbourne for another seven days, and we strongly advise those planning travel to Greater Sydney to reconsider.”

The Sunshine State is currently classifying Greater Melbourne, where around half of the Repco Supercars Championship field is based, as a hotspot.

As such, entry to Queensland is prohibited for any non-resident who has visited any Melbourne local government area in the preceding 14 days, with limited exceptions.

It is understood that the seven-day extension is taken as meaning the hotspot declaration runs to at least June 23 (inclusive), after which there are 15 full days before track activity is due to begin in Townsville.

However, the Thursday would be required for set-up and a track walk, making for a buffer of exactly 14 days.

Working in Supercars favour is the fact that, once a hotspot declaration is lifted, the 14-day requirement no longer applies.

As such, there is no immediate threat to the Townsville event, although whether or not it goes ahead would appear to depend in no small part on Melbourne bringing transmission under control, to the satisfaction of Queensland authorities.

Victoria recorded zero locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the most recent reporting period (24 hours to midnight at end of June 16), just the third time that has happened since the current outbreak began.

A Supercars spokesperson told Speedcafe.com in relation to Queensland’s latest update, “As always, we are monitoring the situation and will adhere to all government COVID requirements.

“For now we are looking forward to getting to Darwin for a great weekend of racing.”

Earlier this month, Supercars CEO Sean Seamer nominated Sydney Motorsport Park as an alternative to Townsville, and advised that a decision on the fate of the latter would be made around now.

Seamer spoke of another television-only event at ‘Eastern Creek’ as a possibility, suggesting the Melbourne-based race teams could follow the path trodden by their AFL counterparts.

Matches between Melbourne-based and ‘interstate’ (ie non-Victoria) AFL teams were moved to Sydney at short notice when Victoria went into lockdown at the end of May and other states responded by imposing tight border controls.

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