U.S. President Donald Trump has announced unprecedented new travel restrictions due to the coronavirus epidemic that will impact the motorsports world and potentially lead to canceled or rescheduled events in the coming weeks.
In a nationally televised address on Wednesday evening, Trump said he’s cutting off travel from most of Europe to the U.S. in what is the nation’s “most aggressive effort” to confront a foreign virus in “modern history”.
The travel ban for foreign nationals who have been in the Schengen area of Europe in the last 14 days, including Germany, France and Italy, will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday and last for 30 days.
It will not include UK citizens, nor American citizens currently overseas.
The new restrictions, aimed to combat the spread of Covid-19, came after the NBA suspended all of its games due to a player having been confirmed with the virus.
Earlier today, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.
As of Wednesday, there have been at least 116,000 reported cases worldwide, totaling more than 4,000 deaths.
It’s not yet clear the exact impact the new travel ban will have on upcoming races, including this weekend’s St. Petersburg Grand Prix, which includes Pirelli GT4 America, as well as next week’s planned ‘Super Sebring’ event.
IMSA issued a statement earlier today stating that the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring was moving ahead as scheduled, although the travel ban may impact those plans.
“We’re aware of the travel ban and are trying to gather as much information as possible on the situation,” an IMSA spokesperson told Sportscar365 on Wednesday evening.
“After gathering such information, we will make announcements on our upcoming schedule as warranted.”
The FIA World Endurance Championship issued a statement to competitors on Tuesday also stating that plans for the 1000 Miles of Sebring had not been affected at the time.
Italian WEC LMP2 team Cetilar Racing and U.S.-based driver David Heinemier Hansson, meanwhile, announced on Wednesday they would not be taking part in the race as due to the pandemic.
The WEC’s ‘coronavirus monitoring group session’ was due to next meet on Friday.
Sportscar365 understands that the majority of WEC competitors are scheduled to arrive in Florida by Thursday and Friday, ahead of this weekend’s planned two-day test.