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Spectator fell ill with COVID-19 while at Rally Estonia

Face masks and disinfectant.
Face masks and disinfectant. Source: ERR

A race-goer at last weekend's WRC Rally Estonia has contracted COVID-19, the Health Board (Terviseamet) reports. The event applied stringent coronavirus regulations, including separating spectators into batches and requiring mask-wearing, which the individual followed, but they still fell sick while the race weekend was in progress.

As a result of the positive case, the Health Board is asking spectators who held RP6 rally passes and watched the SS1 ( Visit Estonia / Tartu), SS3 (VIA 3L / Kanepi), SS10 (Cramo / Mäeküla) and SS14 (Kambja 1) segments of the 17-stage rally, won by Estonia's Ott Tänak, to keep a close eye on their personal health and go to a family doctor if even slight symptoms present.

The individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 had followed all the best practices, including wearing a mask and using the HOIA contacts app, and left the rally zone as soon as they started to feel unwell.

Rally Estonia was one of the largest Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) operations in recent years, thanks mainly to the coronavirus risk, and involved patrolling restricted areas during speed tests to ensure crowd members did not leave and enter other areas in the South Estonian court, such as nearby forest.

The PPA says some spectators from other countries had attempted to do just that, though generally the public was well-behaved, with fewer infringements of this type than they had expected.

Face mask-wearing was mandatory at event

Wearing a mask was made mandatory for all rally goers; after the event, the first WRC race since February and the first ever full-calendar WRC race in Estonia, was confirmed on July 2, spectator numbers were capped at 16,000, with passes sold in batches of 1,000 to facilitate social distancing during and between stages.

Face masks were provided, though recommendations were given for attendees to bring their own mask.

Disinfectant was provided in many locations and required before obtaining rally passes, including a 30-second drying-off period after disinfecting hands.

Stages were fenced off and patrolled by the PPA, including from the air, and guidelines included staying with one's own group of friends and acquaintances and avoiding fraternizing with other rally goers, teams or drivers.

Spectators were also barred from the car servicing areas, though drivers had movement exemptions applied to them from August and were tested upon arrival, which for Welshman Elfyn Evans, who finished fourth, was several weeks before the race as he came to Estonia to test.

Residents of areas where the rally took place were free to leave home without a pass, with some, including those in the village of Kanepi, ending up as spectators in any case.

The Health Board says that as of Wednesday morning there have been three outbreaks in its southern district, which includes the territory of Rally Estonia, though these are not directly related to the rally and have been linked to a birthday party in Võru, a group which had returned from Italy and a close family infection.

The four new cases in the Health Board's southern region as of Wednesday are close contacts of previously infected individuals, it is reported.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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