By Alan Baldwin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – McLaren have closed their paddock hospitality at Formula One testing in Barcelona to anyone who has visited China in the past two weeks as part of measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
A McLaren spokesman said the measure was a group policy, based on recent World Health Organisation directives and British government updates, and applied to automotive, applied and racing businesses.
He emphasised that it related to anyone of any nationality who might have been exposed to the virus by visiting the country.
“The McLaren Group has issued a policy setting out restrictions and conditions we believe prudent to safeguard the health and well-being of our people, contractors and customers and protect our operations,” he said.
“Among these measures is a precaution that anyone who has travelled from China in the last 14 days is not permitted to enter a McLaren Group operated building or facility for up to 14 days.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely and will revise our policy as circumstances change, while working with Formula One and the FIA.”
Other teams in the Circuit de Catalunya paddock said they had nothing similar in place.
Paddock hospitality units, or motorhomes as they are popularly known, are lavish facilities for entertaining sponsors and guests, sometimes on several floors. They are also used for team media briefings and driver interviews, and to feed mechanics and engineers.
McLaren, which employs more than 4,000 people globally, said it has already re-routed team staff travelling to the Australian and Vietnamese Grands Prix via the Middle East to avoid connections in high-risk destinations.
The first race of the Formula One season is in Melbourne, Australia, on March 15 with a new grand prix in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi scheduled to be the third round on April 5.
This year’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, on April 19, was called off last week with the sport looking at a future rescheduling.
The latest figures for cases in China have reached more than 74,000 with 2,004 deaths, three quarters of which have occurred in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)