Austin’s senior public health official has cast doubt over this year’s US Grand Prix, saying that large events are unlikely to take place in the Texan city for the remainder of this year.
Scheduled for October 25, the US motorcycle Grand Prix was postponed earlier this year due to restrictions imposed by the city.
The Circuit of the Americas remains closed, though it hosted a charity event earlier this month, when members of the public were allowed to pay to driver around the circuit.
Speaking with the Austin-Statesman, Dr. Mark Escott, interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health, said that allowing mass gatherings is not a priority,
“The large events are the first thing that we turned off and are going to be the last thing we’re going to turn back on because of that risk of exposing lots of people to one another, particularly individuals of the same household.
“We are working on a plan to help forecast what we think is going to be reasonable, but looking through the end of December, we don’t have any indications at this stage that we would be able to mitigate risk enough to have large events, particularly ones [with] over 2,500 [people].”
However, Escott admitted that an improvement in coronavirus case numbers could warrant a change in outlook.
“I think that’s incentive for us to work hard at that social distancing, work hard at ensuring that people who are sick stay home and if they’re staying home, they’re directed to testing, so that we can get a handle on this.
“We really all as a community have to be focused on the goal of ensuring, number one, that things stay open and, number two, that we get ourselves in a situation which will allow us to open the window even more in the future, particularly in the fall.”
Local regulations aside, the circuit is in a difficult situation as its race-hosting fee is underwritten by the Texas State Major Events Trust Fund programme, on the basis the event brings visitors – and subsequently, money – to the city, and pay local taxes.
Therefore, even if a race behind closed doors id permitted by local authorities, it would almost certainly not be eligible for state funding.