UK government working to eliminate Safari quarantine

M-Sport's season could be compromised if a solution can't be saught

WRC México 2020

DirtFish understands the British government is in negotiation with Kenyan ministers in an effort to find exemptions for those travelling to June’s Safari Rally Kenya.

Members of both the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team and WRC Promoter would be forced to hotel quarantine for 10 days on return from Naivasha if Kenya remains on the UK government’s red list.

Government advice states: “Visitors who have been in or transited through Kenya in the previous 10 days cannot enter the UK. British and Irish nationals and third country nationals with residence rights in the UK arriving in England from Kenya will be required to quarantine in a hotel.”

Completing the 10-day quarantine would not only leave M-Sport with a significant financial burden, it would also bring into question the squad’s participation in Rally Estonia. The trucks would have left for the Tartu-based event before the team completed its quarantine.

The precedent’s not great – there haven’t been many cases where exemption’s been granted from a red list country DirtFish's source

A source told DirtFish: “There’s no way around this, Kenya staying on the red list would make it very complicated to get to the Safari. Actually, let’s get this right: it’s not complicated getting there, that’s no problem – it’s coming home and getting back to work that’s the issue.

“It’s encouraging the these discussions are going on at a government level, but the precedent’s not great – there haven’t been many cases where exemption’s been granted from a red list country.”

The British contingent were in a similar position at the start of the season when the French government stopped travel from the UK across the Channel. Eventually agreement was found with Paris to allow Britons into the country for the Monte Carlo Rally.

The FIA’s response to an M-Sport no-show in Kenya would be interesting. When there was a chance of factory Fiesta WRCs not running at round one, there were calls for the event to be suspended as a WRC qualifier. This time, the restriction comes from the British end rather than the country hosting the event.

WRC Promoter finds itself in a similarly complicated position, with significant numbers of staff members needing to travel to ensure the promoter’s television production goes ahead.

Safari Rally Kenya runs from June 24-27.