After 48 hours in lockdown, riders and media quarantined in Abu Dhabi hotels following a Coronavirus scare in the UAE Tour peloton have been cleared to leave.
Media received a communication from race organizers RCS Sport Saturday night explaining they had been cleared to leave the country following a test for Coronavirus the day before. Media will be issued paperwork confirming the clear test, without which they would be unable to travel. Papers were to be issued Saturday night through Sunday.
VeloNews contacted team staff and racers also placed in quarantine in a neighboring hotel, with sources suggesting they had received the same news.
The quarantine, imposed after a rumored outbreak of Coronavirus in two staff from participating teams, led to the early cancellation of the UAE Tour, which was cut short by two stages.
Media were quarantined from Thursday through Saturday night, during which time they could not leave hotel rooms except to be tested for Coronavirus, or COVID-19, a process that took place in the hotel basement Friday afternoon. Riders were tested Friday morning, and while some were confined to rooms, some teams allowed riders to mingle and socialize within the hotel.
Thoughout the period, the situation has been awash with uncertainty, inconsistency, and rumor, as the race cohort relied on information provided by RCS, who in turn were relying on information from state health bodies.
With many media scheduled to fly Sunday, RCS is working to issue travel documentation Saturday night to enable original travel plans to remain valid. Those unable to make initially-planned flights will have their travel schedule re-arranged by RCS. Teams are similarly holding out on travel documentation, which allegedly may take 24 hours to be issued.
The one wrinkle is that travel is only permitted to home countries – i.e., those with American passports could only fly home to the U.S. For those that were planning on flying out of the UAE to another destination, the situation remains unclear. This could have an impact on huge numbers of the peloton, many of whom relocate to locations such as Girona and Nice to live and train in favorable climates.
The status of two team staffers rumored to have contracted Coronavirus is unknown – and as a symptom of the whole situation, there are suggestions that these may have been red-herrings or subsequently cleared.
VeloNews will continue to provide updates through the remains of the situation.