In light of restrictions placed on public gatherings in Austin, Texas, due to the Covid-19 coronavirus, the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday announced that the facility will be temporarily closed and staff let go.
The announcement came after city officials in Austin, where the racetrack and event center is located, announced a ban on gatherings of 250 or more people to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The ban took effect on Sunday and will last until May 1, though it could be shortened or extended depending on the outcome of the pandemic.
COTA is home to Formula One, IndyCar and MotoGP races, as well as numerous other sporting and entertainment events. An IndyCar race at COTA had already been cancelled as part of IndyCar's plan to cease all races through April, while a MotoGP race has been pushed back to November. At the time of writing, the racetrack is still scheduled to host F1's United States Grand Prix in October.
“Without concerts, races and games, we have limited use,” read a statement posted to COTA's website. “We are heartbroken for our employees (and their families) who spend all year preparing to welcome guests from Austin and all around the globe but now find themselves without work.”
The news comes just days after the Australian Grand Prix, the opening round of the 2020 F1 season, was cancelled. The new season is now scheduled to commence in late May at a racetrack in Europe, meaning earlier scheduled races in Bahrain, China and Vietnam have all been postponed.
In addition to the cancellation and postponement of sporting events, the coronavirus also led to the cancellation of this month's Geneva International Motor Show while auto shows scheduled for Beijing and New York in April have been postponed. Some automakers have also experienced production disruptions due to difficulties in sourcing parts, employees testing positive for the virus, and cities and provinces being locked down.