Last Wednesday, Portugal announced a 'State of Calamity
' and announced further restrictions to help stem the spread of Coronavirus. Portugal has fared better than most Western European countries at controlling the spread of COVID 19 but has still recorded a total of 106,000 cases and 2,229 deaths from its population of 10.28 million.
However, its cases have started to rise rapidly since the start of September and the country is now recording around 2,000 new cases and double-digit more deaths each day. On October 16, it recorded 2,608 new cases, the most since the pandemic began. To help combat the spread of the disease, Portugal's prime minister has limited gatherings to five people and raised the maximum fines for shops, restaurants and other businesses that violate anti-COVID-19 rules to €10,000. Isn't there a Formula 1 Grand Prix in Portugal this weekend?
Yes, an even bigger event than the downhill World Cups is going ahead this weekend in Portugal, the Formula One Grand Prix. The good news is that Open Air events have not yet been banned by the government. Visit Portugal
advises: "Outdoor shows can take place in a delimited venue to allow access control, even if free. They must follow rules of social distance and circulation, in order to minimize physical contact".
The Grand Prix was originally supposed to run with 46,000 spectators, half the venue's total capacity, but it will now only be open to 27,500 attendees. The Portuguese government said that fans will be "distributed by separated stands, with a variable occupancy capacity and divided into sectors of about 800 people". There will be no moving between stands and spectators will be spread out within the stand to ensure social distancing.
We'll be watching the event closely but if it goes ahead as planned we can't see why two downhill World Cups couldn't the next weekend.What is the current status of the downhill World Cups?
Currently, the races in Lousa are scheduled to go ahead from 30 October to 1 November. The border with Portugal's only land neighbor, Spain, also remains open, which should mean teams have no issue driving their pits from Maribor to Lousa. With most of the new cases in Portugal concentrated in the north and around the capital Lisbon, the Coimbra region that is home to Lousa should also avoid the predicted local lockdowns in the immediate future.
The organizers, Montanha Clube, have announced that spectators will not be allowed at the venue. They said, "The best place to watch is at home! Given the current global situation, the Mountain Clube will not create any public conditions in Mercedes-Benz UCI MTB World Cup, unlike what it would want. We appeal to common sense and respect from everyone in order to achieve our event safely! Watch live stream on RedBull TV!"
Other than that, you can expect the masks, regular testing and peloton bubble of previous rounds to remain in effect to keep the riders safe and separate from the Portuguese public. We contacted the organizers for further information on the status of the event but they did not respond for comment.
Of course, the situation is still subject to change as the outbrek continues to worsen and further restrictions could still be brought in that affect the running of the race. For now, we're keeping everything crossed that we get to go racing again next weekend as long as it is safe to do so.Update: Reuters
is reporting that today the Felgueiras, Lousada and Pacos de Ferreira municipalities in Portugal, will enter partial lockdowns on Friday. Residents in these areas will only be able to leave home for work, school or other essential activities such as buying food and medicine. All three are located around 150km (90 miles) north of Lousa.