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Algarve’s leading entities “surprised” over decision to not allow fans at F1 race

A joint statement released by five of the Algarve’s leading tourism and business entities and associations has expressed “surprise” over the government’s decision to not allow spectators at the F1 GP to be held in May at the Algarve International Racetrack. The MotoGP race will also go ahead without fans in the stands, it was revealed (click here).

Signed by the Algarve tourism board (RTA), municipalities association (AMAL), two of the region’s hotel associations (AIHSA and AHETA) and one of the region’s business associations (NERA), the statement highlights that they have yet to receive “any official communication from the government regarding a decision about the presence of fans at the F1 GP.

“For months, we have been working with DGS (national health board), the regional health authority and civil protection and police forces to ensure that the F1 GP can take place with all the security conditions for residents and visitors. And nothing points towards such a scenario (lack of fans),” the statement reads.

The entities add that the event is being organised with the “strictest measures” out of any of the GPs included in this year’s F1 calendar. They also stress that the event will take place outdoors in an area over 5km-long, with substantial reductions in capacity, and that spectators would have to take a Covid-19 test, wear a mask at all times and respect social distancing guidelines.

According to the region’s representatives, other F1 GPs in Imola (April 18) and Barcelona (May 9) will be going ahead without as many restrictive measures and with fans in the stands.

They also say that big events like the F1 GP are needed to kickstart the economy of a region that is “competing directly with Mediterranean tourist destinations” and has been “hit the hardest by unemployment despite being the one that has prevented and controlled the pandemic most consistently on a national level.”

The joint statement questions why shows will be allowed again on April 19 in closed spaces such as cinemas, theatres, shopping centres and other venues while the F1 GP, which will be held outdoors, will have to be held ‘behind closed doors’.

It also points out that there was no outbreak of Covid-19 linked to last year’s race, despite the lack of social distancing which was detected in some parts of the stands.

“We will continue to work serenely and in a coordinated way with health authorities, police forces, civil protection authorities, local councils and the government to defend public health,” the entities say, adding that they will try to ensure that this “great event can help the Algarve and the country overcome this scourge which has economically devastated us”.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com