On Tuesday, the Dutch government announced it was extending the ban on public events until September 1st, putting an end to hopes of racing in June. And now yesterday, the Finnish government have ended any hope of MotoGP racing in July.
At a press conference on Wednesday evening, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that all gatherings of over 500 people are to remain banned until July 31st.
That would make it impossible to hold the Finnish Grand Prix, due to be held on July 12th at the new Kymiring circuit, 130 km northeast of Helsinki.
Although no announcements have been made officially, the race in Finland was the first race left on the calendar after announcements in Germany and The Netherlands made it impossible for the races at the Sachsenring and Assen to be held.
Postponing the Finnish round of MotoGP would not come as a surprise, as the circuit was still not homologated for MotoGP.
Given the track’s location, the options for rescheduling it in 2020 are very limited. Cancellation is a more likely option, though nothing official has been announced yet.
The presumable loss of Finland means the first possible race could be Brno on August 9th, but the Czech Republic is also tending towards keeping the borders closed beyond the summer of 2020.
Austria is a more likely candidate for the season to start. Both F1 and MotoGP are examining the option of racing at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg behind closed doors, F1 in July, MotoGP in August.
However, for that to happen, a lot of international restrictions on travel will need to be lifted. The countries in the Schengen Area in the EU currently have bans in place on non-EU nationals entering.
There are the first signs of hope, however. Austria and parts of Italy have started opening some shops, Spain is due to start allowing children to go outside again, and in a press conference today, Ernst Kuipers, head of the Dutch National Acute Care Network, said he believed that pressure on hospitals in The Netherlands had eased enough to start to think about ending some restrictions earlier than the May 31st date currently given by the Dutch government.
The COVID-19 outbreak appears to be past its peak in many European countries. Dr. Jason Oke, a medical statistician at the University of Oxford, told the BBC radio program More Or Less that his calculations showed that coronavirus deaths had reached a peak in the UK on April 8th, and the disease is now in a slow decline.
This decline in cases and deaths could prompt an easing of restrictions sooner rather than later, though governments in Europe are erring on the side of caution, fearing a resurgence of the disease.
If there is not a second spike in cases as restrictions are eased, then some form of racing could resume in the second half of 2020.
How, when, and where is still up in the air, but there is reason for cautious optimism that there will be at least some semblance of a MotoGP and WorldSBK season in 2020.