PARIS (Reuters) - Tour de France organisers have set up an anti-COVID protocol for this year's race, with riders and team staff banned from signing autographs and eating out of their hotels, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Saturday.
Riders and staff members were allowed out of their hotels last year. Access to the paddock at the start of the stages was open to reporters until midway through the race, when organisers decided to close it to "fight against the propagation of COVID-19".
Access to the paddock will be allowed when the Tour starts in Bilbao, Spain on June 29, with everyone required to wear a mask.
"For all the team members: Respect a confinement - Limit the interactions outside the race bubble. No eating out. Respect social distancing at the hotel," the chart, seen by Reuters, said.
"Do not get too close to the spectators - Social distancing, no selfies, no autograph."
On Friday, France reported 3,204 COVID-19 cases in the country. At this time last year, there were about 25,000 reported daily cases in France.
Giro d'Italia organisers last month set up an anti-COVID protocol near the halfway point of the race after overall leader Remco Evenepoel pulled out after testing positive for coronavirus.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)