This represents a significant change from last year’s event, where participants were given more freedom. Last year, riders and team members had the liberty to leave their hotels. Reporters also had unrestricted access to the paddock area at the start of the stages, a privilege that was later rescinded halfway through the race as a part of the concerted effort to curtail COVID-19 transmission.
This year, the paddock access is scheduled to return at the race’s start in Bilbao, Spain on June 29, with a mandatory mask rule in place.
An anti-COVID protocol chart seen by Reuters detailed the restrictions: “For all the team members: Respect a confinement – Limit the interactions outside the race bubble. No eating out. Respect social distancing at the hotel,” it read. Additional guidelines implored the teams to maintain distance from spectators, with the chart specifically noting, “Do not get too close to the spectators – Social distancing, no selfies, no autograph.”
The new rules come as France reported 3,204 COVID-19 cases on Friday. This is a marked decrease from the same time last year when daily case numbers were estimated to be around 25,000.
The Tour de France is not alone in its imposition of rigorous anti-COVID measures. The Giro d’Italia, another significant cycling event, established a similar protocol halfway through the race last month after Remco Evenepoel, the race’s overall leader, tested positive for the virus.
With these restrictions in place, it’s clear that major sporting events like the Tour de France are remaining vigilant and adaptable in the face of the ongoing pandemic, demonstrating a commitment to the safety and well-being of all involved.