The Tour de France has stepped up its COVID protocol as the race closes down on its decisive final week.
Race organizers ASO confirmed to Reuters on Friday that spectators will not be allowed at Tour de France finish zones in areas designated a coronavirus “red zone.”
French regions are being classified as red zones if they record 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days. The move is part of a measure intended to prevent mass gatherings as fears grow of a second wave of coronavirus in France.
“The system will sensibly be the same as on Paris-Nice,” ASO director Yann Le Moenner told Reuters on Friday.
Paris-Nice this March prohibited spectators within 300 meters of the finish line and 100 meters of the start podiums.
One of the first stages to be affected will be stage 15 Sunday, which is set to see a mighty mountaintop battle to the Grand Colombier. Paris, host to the final stage of the race, is also designated code red.
“The cycling race will be held behind closed doors during its passage of the Col de la Biche and at the Col du Grand Colombier,” stated a decree from the Ain region that hosts Sunday’s mountain stage.
The measure has been instated following recent spikes of coronavirus sparking concerns over a possible second wave of the pandemic. France recorded 9,406 new cases in the 24 hours to Friday according to reports from the nation’s health ministry.
“Everything confirms that the virus has not decreased in intensity,” French prime minister Jean Castex said Friday, calling the new outbreaks of COVID-19 a “manifest deterioration” in the nation’s battle against the virus.