Arc crowds limited as French COVID cases surge

French restrictions on public gatherings could mean that this year’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe could be limited to 5,000 attendees.

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According to the Racing Post, race organisers France Galop had hoped that the event would gain the green light from the Paris police and city authorities to host 15,000-20,000 people with social distancing measures in place.

However, government guidelines state that localities with heightened levels of COVID-19 infections will be prohibited from applying for such exemptions from the 5,000 person limit on public gatherings.

France Galop chief executive Olivier Delloye said: “We have not received authorisation from the Paris police prefecture to have more than 5,000 people. As we feared might happen Paris has become one of the red zones in terms of the circulation of the virus and the prefects are no longer allowed to consider any exemption.

“We are now planning for an Arc with 5,000 people at Longchamp. Unfortunately that number means no admission to the general public and it will be an Arc limited to the staff working at the racecourse, as well as trainers, owners and breeders with runners and limited entourages.

“There is a tiny hope that in the coming weeks we might be allowed to add a separate watertight zone on the racecourse for another 5,000 people. I think the chances are extremely thin that we will be allowed to do that but we have to hold out hope. In reality, it looks like an Arc with only 5,000 people.”

A decision was made on Wednesday to go ahead with plans to stage an ‘industry-only’ Arc, meaning that only the media, owners, trainers and other racing professionals will be able to attend.

Earlier this year, the French government classified different areas of the country into red and green zones – red being assigned to areas heavily affected by the coronavirus.

As a result, France Galop was forced to reorganise its fixture list and rescheduling meetings at alternate venues. At the time, it was suggested that races could return to their original locations once certain areas became green on the government’s coronavirus map.

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